The Boy Who Steals Houses

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 7 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

This author has been on my radar for a long time now because I've known her for a couple of years as Paperfury. I've been keeping up to date on her book writing progress for a while and I'm always excited when she has a new book out! I'm yet to read A Thousand Perfect Notes (although I own a copy. Story of my life), so I'm not sure why I decided to go for this one first - but I really enjoyed it.

The story wasn't as I expected. I actually didn't know what I expected; it's one of those books I went into without knowing a great deal about it, and I'm so glad I did, because everything that happened was completely unexpected and it took turns that I didn't see coming!

I loved the brothers and their relationship. It's a very unique sibling relationship because they've stuck together through some truly awful times. Sam often finds himself looking after his autistic older brother, Avery, but they end up spending a large section of the book apart from each other.

It's not until later when the boys join together again and we see the completely different paths their lives have taken in such a short space of time. It's fascinating to see the choices they made, the directions they went in, and how different they've become just over the course of the story.

This book is heartbreaking, funny, eye-opening, and I liked it a lot!
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One of the most stunning books I've read this year. 

Sam is 15, abandoned by his relatives, with the exception of his autistic older brother, Avery. He is trying desperately to build a life for the two of them, but it's hard. He survives by breaking into empty houses. 

One day, he is caught out when a family return home unexpectedly. It's a large and chaotic family, and each member assumes Sam is the friend of another member. So Sam gets absorbed into the household, and becomes particularly close to one of the daughters, Moxie.

Struggling to keep his secrets, stay close to his brother and run away from his past, it's inevitable that something is going to come tumbling down in Sam's world...

Gritty, moving, sensitive and beautiful.
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I've followed C. G Drews and her blog for almost 7 years, and was always desperate to read her work. When I got the chance to read an early copy of THE BOY WHO STEALS HOUSES, I was not disappointed. Heartwrenching (and warming?), it's not as light a read as I was expecting. Every character was 3D and well written, and I couldn't put the book down.
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It was fab. I loved it. I really want to know what happens next, pretty please? It was filled with angst, love, longing for a home and good saves the day kind thing. More please!
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Thank you to the author and the publisher for providing me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. 

TW: domestic abuse, violence

CAIT HAS DONE IT AGAIN. How can she write the most beautifully heartbreaking books??? My heart is is too soft for this. A Thousand Perfect Notes was one of my favorite reads of last year and now I've just added The Boy Who Steals Houses to my 2019 Favorites list. I hardly read books outside the fantasy genre but I can't help reading Cait's YA Contemporary books because I know they're bound to be phenomenal. 

She didn't disappoint, folks.

MORE THOUGHTS ON THE BOY WHO STEALS HOUSES:

• The Boy Who Steals Houses has a really unique premise. It's actually a Goldilocks retelling where two homeless boys try to get through life by breaking into houses. You can safely assume that I was perpetually in pain while reading because Sam and Avery deserve better lives than thieving and stealing their way to survival. 

‘We’re stealing a house, because you know what we need?’
Avery shakes his head. 
‘We are the kings of nowhere,’ Sammy says. ‘We only need us.’ 
He’s a very good liar.

• It also shows dymanics between two siblings which I especially admired. Their relationship isn't perfect (there isn't any perfect sibling relationship of course. Y'all should see me and my sister fighting over who washes the dishes) but they always end up running back to each other every single time. Avery is autistic and Sam is the only one who fully understands him. He will fight tooth and nail to protect Avery even if it kills him. 

Sam spends his life hitting the world and smoothing over the rusty corners so Avery won’t fall and hurt himself.

• ‎Sam appears so raw and I just...love him so much okay?? Making bad decisions is Sammy Lou's brand. While reading some parts in the book, I was torn between screaming at him and hugging him fifteen times. He's an extremely flawed character but one¹ can't help but have these protective feelings for him. His anxiety also feels too real. I can especially relate to the sweaty palms (my palms have been cursed by ten river gods and I honestly don't know why I offended them)  and the feeling of not being able to fit into a world full of people. The anxiety rep in this book is so well-written, that's for sure. 

¹I am the one. I will protect Sammy Lou with my life.

• ‎C. G Drews' writing style makes mundane life magical and I AM IN LOVE. I mentioned in my *A Thousand Perfect Notes review* that she has this soulful way of writing that I loved seeing again in TBWSH. The descriptions and the metaphors make a full-course meal that fed my bookdragon soul. 

He can’t believe he’s still clawing for the impossible wish of having his own home. But he needs a dream as big as the moon or else he’s just an invisible boy with empty hands.

• ‎It captures the chaos and the charm of a big family

THE DE LAINEYS CAN ADOPT ME RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. Okay, scratch that. My mom wouldn't be pleased if she hears about this. 

Sam's life gets even more complicated when he gets tangled up (quite literally) with the De Laineys. They are people who don't believe that "organization" is a real word and know all too well that peace is a far-fetched dream in a house full of screaming babies, stabby sisters, and dynamic older brothers. 

The chaos of a big family is told vividly in this book and I enjoyed every word of the De Laineys' spontaneous banter. Y'ALL NEED TO MEET EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. No words can express my love for all these fireballs. 

Footsteps pad upstairs and the De Lainey father’s voice trails down, softly warning.
‘Jack. If I have to pull up your language one more time tonight, you’re losing your phone.’
‘Child abuse,’ Jack mutters. ‘How is his hearing so good?’ 
Jeremy pats his shoulder. ‘Only for you and your swearing, buddy. If we’re asking to use the car, he can’t hear a thing.’

• ‎MOXIE AND SAM GAVE ME ALL THE FEELS
Here's the thing: Moxie is a force to be reckoned with and she's a legend who deserves hundreds of epic poems to her name. C.G. Drews writes all the iconic female characters and I want to give her a hundred boxes of cakes for that. 

He walks next to Moxie, because the others’ wildness is equal parts fascinating and terrifying. Plus Moxie moves with a grim, no-nonsense look on her face, like getting to the beach is a mission and she’ll achieve it no matter what. It’s comforting to be near someone who knows how to get what they want.

Moxie and Sam have this pure chemistry that made me scream silently with all the feels. They went from enemies to lovers through the help of caramel and if that's not the proof of the power of food, I don't know what is. I LOVE THEM BOTH SO MUCH. 

• ‎It's a heartbreaking story full of love and hope

It's not a book written by Cait if it doesn't make you cry at least ten buckets of tears. TBWSH has its fluff and funny dialogues but it also has its gut-wrenching moments that will make you sob long after you've finished reading it. You need to read the book to know what I mean but this one's for sure: Sammy Lou will steal your hearts just as he steals houses so guard it fiercely. You have been warned. 

*All the quotes used in this review are from the e-ARC provided by the publisher and may be subject to change upon publication*
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I raced through this in about an hour and a half, after weeks of not being able to stick with any book long enough to finish it. Full of feelings, simultaneously an emotional gut-punch and a warm hug. If you like intense sibling relationships, soft boys just trying to find a family, and beautiful prose, then I'd highly recommend this one. 

Difficult to give it a more detailed review because I don't even really know WHY I liked elements of it so much. Found myself grinning at the page in places. Didn't cry, unlike ATPN, and I think ATPN probably hit more of my personal spots (anything with music tends to set me off), so the overall impression left by this one was different, but it was still great. 

Ending maybe felt a little abrupt, but that's because I NEED A SEQUEL. And it needs to be queer. And I want it now. 

[I've recently discontinued my book blog, but have featured TBWSH repeatedly on Instagram, left a brief review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Waterstones websites, and generally yelled about it to most people that I've met in the last couple of months.]
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Oh hi! It’s me and I’m crying over a book again. also this review, like any other review I write, is most likely going to be a mess and may not make sense. Yay. We might have to get used to this. This book was wildly good, and it made me so happy yet here I am. Crying. Wow. HOW RUDE. 
Also I read somewhere that Cait tried to write this is a happy book... if this is her try at a happy book, I’m for sure screwed when I read A THOUSAND PERFECT NOTES. like for absolutely sure.
This book is gorgeously written. Like WOW. I was highlighting every few sentences in my ebook copy, because it was all just SO GOOD. can I highlight a whole book??? Please say yes. 
I will say. It took me a little while to gather up the courage to read this. I was absolutely terrified that I wouldn’t like it. I’m saying all this for the sake and our honesty. I’m going to be transparent: reading a book by someone who you’re friends with and admire so so much and then reviewing it is A WHOLE ENTIRE TRIP. it was rough. But I really shouldn’t’ve been worried, because this book is absolutely amazing and wonderful and I CRIED SO MUCH. okay thanks, let’s continue with the review now.
Have you ever heard of like cinnamon roll boys who are soft and sensitive and wonderful and respectful and basically hufflepuffs and must be protected at all costs? THAT’S THE LOU BOYS. someone protect these boys pls, I can’t even.
Okay so. Trying to add a little structure here to organize my thoughts. So maybe this next bit will have less flailing? Haha sure. 
In examination of the plot, I found nothing really lacking. I think the pacing was exactly how it should have been, and while the ending is a little open ended, I think it had a solid arc, inciting incident, and finale. In examination of the characters, each one was complete. They are felt extremely real, and the ones who drove the story had a solid motive and you were really able to understand where they came from. 
In contemporaries, there isn’t always a villain like what we see in a fantasy or action novel. But I find that villains in contemporaries take a different kind of role. In this story, we had a couple villains who Sam had to overcome and “defeat”. There’s no defeat of the villain per se, but we get to see Sam overcome the obstacles and I think it helps with the sense of closure at the end of the story. 
I loved loved loved loved the De Laineys. Like wow. I thought their role in the story was amazing and I loved the emotion that they bring to the story and their love and acceptance of Sam. It was amazing. 
Speaking of the De Laineys!! We have to talk about Moxie. She’s easily my favorite character and I love her. I am scared of her but I also want to be her best friend at the same time. She’s an absolutely badass. 
Also. Moxie and Sam. YES YES YES YES. I love everything about their relationship. I love them together, how Moxie takes care of Sam when no one else does, and how he so fiercely protects her. TALK ABOUT A POWER COUPLE, Y’ALL.
I can’t personally speak for the autistic rep, but I believe this is ownvoices and I think that Cait handled it very well. I loved Avery so much and as a sister of someone with special needs and communication issues not completely unlike Avery’s, I understand what Sam felt and loved how he stood up for Avery and protected him, I also loved how Avery stood up for himself as well and how he took care of Sam in the end. Everyone looked to fix him, but he wasn’t broken, just different. 
I also love the mental health rep. Sam is not okay. And I think it’s so important that in the end, he has a support system and gets help, rather than everything magically being okay at the end of the story. 

TRIGGER WARNINGS: abuse, anxiety, bullying, violence (if you know of more, comment them and I’ll add them! )
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I loved this book! Highly recommended who wants to go through an emotional rollercoaster and adopt a couple sweet, vulnerable kind boys to protect them for forever.

C.G. Drews’ debut novel, A Thousand Perfect Notes, destroyed me emotionally. One morning last September, I was supposed to read a couple pages of the book before heading to university but then a couple pages turned into 300 and I found myself sobbing in my dried-out porridge bowl in my pajamas, at 3pm. A Thousand Perfect Notes had such a huge emotional impact on me that I have been anxiously awaiting for The Boy Who Steals Houses, C.G. Drew’s second novel, ever since. I was beyond excited (and also dreading emotional torture) when I received an arc of The Boy Who Steals Houses.

This book. It was beautiful. Oh my heart.

Sam and Avery have been terribly wronged by violence and intolerance from their father and they have always been made feel unwelcome. They are passionate, and desperate. Desperate for a safe place. Desperate for a home. This has led the brothers, and especially Sam, to steal empty houses. These empty houses give him a home for a couple stolen days. Both Avery and Sam are incredibly kind-hearted and vulnerable. They have flaws and their past has made them wary of any help.

All characters in The Boy Who Steals Houses are incredibly relatable. They are flawed, raw and despite of their obstacles, they can enjoy the beautiful moments that they happen to come across. C.G Drews can write some of the best conversations in contemporary that I have ever read; a silly banter can change quickly into a heartwrenching moment if any of the characters feels out of place or hurt. Sam’s thoughts of awkwardness in the middle of the chaotic De Lainey family are on point. His protectiveness of Avery melted my soul.

Another great thing about The Boy Who Steals Houses is the amazing rep for both autism and anxiety. It is an #OwnVoices novel with autism representation; Avery has autism which makes Sam even more worried for him. It is probably the best autism rep I have encountered. Avery is a great character, passionate and vulnerable. His autism is a huge part of his life, but it doesn’t define him.

In addition to autism, anxiety is very well represented. Sam’s anxiety makes him not only panic but sometimes it results in him making messy decisions. C.G Drews manages to show the gritty details of anxiety and how it affects Sam’s life. I struggle with anxiety myself and I felt so seen. Although anxiety is a common mental health condition, it is still difficult to find rep that makes you feel like the author gets it. Anxiety is so much more than simply feeling nervous.

The Boy Who Steals Houses is a character-driven novel but I enjoyed the plot as well. The relationships between the characters push the plot forwards and I was out of breadth while reading the ending.
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The Intro:
So here’s something weird; my first name is Samantha – probably doesn’t take a genius to work out, my middle name is Louise. “Why are you telling us this?” I hear you ask… well the protagonist of this story is called Sammy Lou. *insert scream emoji here*
So of course I knew this book was going to be for me after about page 5. We were connected after all.
Also had something to do with the fact that I freaking loved A Thousand Perfect Notes and think everyone should read it. If you’d like to hear my thoughts on that you can find my review here.
Cait’s author voice is just perfect, and I found myself hanging onto every word almost instantaneously.
The Middle:
As with A Thousand Perfect Notes this book is supposed to make you feel, and boy does it. You know the middle is setting you up for a complete heart-break at the end of the book. You’ll fall in love with Sammy, I promise you that. Despite being a bit of a morally grey character (I love them anyway), his whole situation is just distressing, and I can’t even imagine what it must be like to go through what he does at such a young age.
Despite his hardships he is such a pure individual at heart, and it broke me to see what he had to go through in the short time frame over which The Boy Who Steals Houses is set. What’s really amazing about this narrative is the underlying hope you have that everything will be alright in the end.
The Ending:
Yup. It broke me.
Characters:
Each and every one of them was just precious. Okay there were some a**holes in the picture, but really – who lives a life without them.
Sammy, Avery, Moxie, Moxie’s entire family – they’re all unique with individual voices and personalities. The range of characters and representations in this book makes it feel like you’ve been pulled headfirst into an entire world that’s not your own. Not a small section, a fictional town, a fragment of a world, but a whole world.
This book occurs over a relatively short time-frame, though we do see snapshots of the past via the dedicated chapters and narration, and so in terms of development there is little room for characters to adjust. However, the events are so paramount that we do see them adjust and take in the change that’s happened in their lives. This story isn’t just about Sammy and his brother and their emotional journey, but Moxie’s too.
Narrative:
I actually felt guilty for putting this book down and going to bed (never fear, I got up in the morning early and finished it before heading to work so managed it in under 24hrs). Her writing will grab you and never let you go.
Summary:
5/5 for The Boy Who Steals Houses. It’s a tear-jerker of a book, be warned. But it’s an absolute contemporary fiction masterpiece. I have rarely felt so close to each of the characters; not necessarily because I relate but simply because their development and portrayal is unbelievably realistic.
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I was kindly sent The Boy Who Steals Houses by CG Drews from the publisher via Netgalley. All views are my own. 

For some reason I missed CG Drews' first novel, A Thousand Perfect Notes. Well, that was quite the mistake on my part! I thought that this novel was stunning. I read it on a 6 hour flight, and by the end I was unabashedly sobbing. (I got some weird looks from the people around me, but it was 1000% worth it.) 

First of all, all the family dynamics in this book were pure gold. Sam and Avery are brothers, and while they have their differences they would do ANYTHING for each other. Time and time again they both show how much they love each other, and it was so beautiful. The other family that really comes to the fore is the Delaineys. Although life can be (very) messy, there is a strength in their family that made me cry so much. All of the family members had their own distinct personality and brought a different strength and perspective, which was amazing. 

This is also an #ownvoices story for autism and anxiety. I have anxiety myself, so I could definitely relate to that. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read many books that have autistic characters - I really must read more. I very much understood Avery when it came to sensory overload, particularly with loud noises. However, I do not have autism so I can't say anything about the accuracy of its representation. 

This book made me feel all of the feelings. I can't wait to go back and read CG Drews' first book - if it's half as good as this one, I'm in for a treat!

Trigger warnings: domestic abuse, violence, ableism, blood
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My heart breaks for Sam, who just cannot seem to get life on his side for once. This is a soblong relationship story that will stay with me for a long time. I love Moxie and the whole De Lacey family. This will pull at your heart for so long, then chew it up and spit it back at you.
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I really liked CG Drews’ (@paperfury on bookstagram) debut novel A Thousand Perfect Notes so I was anticipating her latest book with much enthusiasm and The Boy Who Steals Houses definitely did not disappoint. As with her debut it seriously tugs at the heartstrings and will make you genuinely care about the Lou brothers and their incredibly difficult lives.

The Boy Who Steals Houses follows Sammy Lou, an essentially homeless teenager who finds comfort in breaking into empty houses and sort of stealing a sense of home and family for a brief time. He also feels like he must look after and protect his elder brother, Avery, who is autistic in a world that sadly rarely understands him. I thought the portrayal of Avery was dealt with really beautifully and brought to life how autism can affect both the person who has it and the people who love them. It also showed how cruel and ignorant people can be and how damaging the actions of these people are. Sammy’s life is then suddenly vastly changed when the family whose house he is inhabiting return unexpectedly and he manages to slip into their large chaotic family. This family includes Moxie, a fiery teenage girl who is dramatic, passionate and dedicated to her dream of becoming an upcycling fashion designer. I’m actually a costume design student myself so Moxie’s love of sewing was a touch that made me, personally, feel connected to this story. The development of Sammy and Moxie’s relationship was also really lovely and felt so genuine.

There is admittedly a lot of pain in this story and it sometimes felt like Sammy just couldn’t catch a break but there is also so much love and devotion here that The Boy Who Steals Houses never feels overwhelmingly depressing. I was so rooting for these characters to find a way out of the rough hand they’ve been dealt through no fault of their own. Sammy and Avery are victims of violence at the hands of their frankly awful father and also victims of a system that refuses to protect them properly. They are neglected and abandoned but the love they have for each other is the driving force of this book and also what made me fall in love with The Boy Who Steals Houses.
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I am glad to say that The Boy Who Steals Houses was a much more pleasant, yet still conflicting read. The first half was a two star in all honesty, there was so much thrown into the plot that I just didn't find it realistic or believable. Thankfully, the second half was much more of what I was expecting from this book and managed to boost it up to a three star rating.

One of issues I had with A Thousand Perfect Notes was how each and every character was violent in some way or another and again this was a very strong theme in The Boy Who Steals Houses too. Many authors use abuse as a backstory for their characters but unfortunately I don't think C. G. Drews has enough research to back up her stories. There's no credibility there for me, everything happens far too easily with no consequence or explanation.

However, the ending of this novel was ten times better than her first book. I fully support how this story came to a close. I wouldn't have minded an epilogue some time in the future to add a bit of closure but the ending felt real.

This novel is dubbed as an own voices autistic rep, it's up to autistic people to determine if this is a good representation for autism. Personally, I did like the autistic characteristics that were clearly portrayed by Avery, it was announced that he is autistic fairly early into the story. My only complaint is how much abuse and violence Avery suffered, within 30 pages of reading the book I felt uncomfortable with the graphic scenes of abuse. This could definitely have been handled in a much more sensitive way.

In comparison to her first novel, I really liked the characters in The Boy Who Steals Houses, Sam, Avery, the Delainey family, they were all so wonderful! The romance was the slow and steady love of teenagers who are discovering themselves and others.

So all in all, the first half was a busy mess of events where as in the second half the story relaxed and gave us the opportunity to learn more about the characters. If you want to read this novel for the autism rep, I would urge you to consider the trigger warning very carefully and prepare yourself for the unpleasant scenes.
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I’m 100% positive I’m never going to get over this book. What can I say? I’m a mess.

While I loved A Thousand Perfect Notes last year and five starred it, this book somehow was monstrously better? I don’t how. But I just fell so deeply in love with this book, deeper than I ever even thought was possible. I laughed, smiled and even teared up at certain points.

The Boy Who Steals Houses is about a boy named Sam, who doesn’t have a home and so breaks into empty houses while having to take care of his brother Avery. For this particular house, instead of leaving the house when the owners return, he stays and pretends to be a friend of one of the family members. There he meets Moxie and the rest of The Delaineys. (spoiler: this is also where I meet a whole lot of heartbreak and feels. )

Sam breaks into strangers’ homes and also breaks my heart. (#puns) I’m pretty sure he’s got anxiety and he’s the softest.(let’s just ignore he literally beats people up very aggressively) I love every character that Cait writes because they always have that lowkey-hufflepuff personality that I LOVE!! Sam is just trying his best…but he’s not the best. And I really, really love deeply flawed characters who do morally questionable things yet your whole heart literally exists for them and them only. Gosh, I have so many emotions. I think Cait just manages to create those main characters who you literally want to adopt and give hot chocolate and a warm hug because they just deserve it okay.


Avery is Sam’s brother who has autism (#ownvoices rep) and is troublesome but also I want to give him a hug right now please. Honestly, Avery and Sam are just both big messes throughout this entire book and someone needs to talk some sense into both of them but I still love Avery. Again, he’s not a perfect character but entirely loveable!! I’m also sure he’s bisexual so it’s nice to see intersectional identities in contemporaries!


literally nobody:
me: I want to give this character a hug!!!

Sam and Avery’s brotherly relationship? Ugh, I’m melting. Sam hates Avery and wishes he would just…not do things that are just unhealthy and bad for him but also loves Avery and would protect him with this life. There are also flashbacks to their childhood together in the book and uhm? your hear that? that’s the sound of my soul shattering. I LOVE flashbacks and I feel like these just made the story so meaningful and heart-wrenching. yay. Anyways, I feel like this book just captured the sibling dynamic so well? Like how you hate your siblings one second and then crave their attention the next. It’s perfect.


Moxie is Sam’s main friend in this book (which later develops into a romance) and GOSH I LOVE HER PASSIONATELY. She is so witty and confident! I really wish we got to see her POV because everything about her is goals and I want her to be my best friend. But also, she’s so real. Her arguments with her family and the struggle of living with like five siblings is so well presented and I just appreciated that so much.

I LOVE Moxie and Sam’s relationship. They have easily become one of my favourite OTPs of all time. I was practically hyperventilating every time they interacted. They’re just smol inexperienced kids who are soft and make me melt.My cheeks hurt every time I read about them. gah!! They have such a sweet dynamic and the DeLainey family teasing them about each other is hilarious, I love it. I love them.


Also The DeLaineys have now made a home in my heart. (drinking game: take a shot (of water) every time i make a pun) Truly, I can’t express the feelings of nostalgia, long, lazy summer days and laughter that I get from reading about this family. Their banter, arguments, and teasing make me feel so warm inside. Everything about them is just so perfectly created I want to live in their world forever. Their family is not perfect, but there are friends, fun and food whilst there also being the difficult strains of money and other problems. Still, the DeLainey family feel like magic and all the good things about the world. Every scene with them was just so well-crafted and dripping with memories and love. I don’t think I’m making sense anymore.

Ultimately this book is about home, not just the physical place, but the feeling of familiarity and friendship. It’s about brothers and wanting to be loved and accepted. It’s about accepting the consequences for your actions and learning that the past will always catch up with you. And I just felt so many emotions whilst reading this. I don’t want to ever leave the safety of the DeLainey family so yes, I’m still in denial this book is over because it’s just that beautiful.


Do I think you should read this book? Yes. I am a huge fan of Cait’s blog (she is the most awesome dragon) and her books are so GOOD. I want like a companion novel for this maybe from Moxie’s POV (she’s such an interesting character). I so desperately don’t want this to be the end of knowing these characters!! but now I’m going to cry in a hobbit hole and eat cake.
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Such a light and cute read. I was hooked from the beginning. Really enjoyed reading about the De lainey family, the siblings are hilarious. Sam is such a sweetheart. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a fast read, with broken characters, both with their own responsibilities, sacrifice and young love. 
FULL REVIEW HERE: https://thechroniclesofabookworm.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/the-boy-who-steals-houses-book-review/
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The Boy Who Steals Houses was *Just Right*
It wasn’t too big, or too small- it was *perfection*!! In case my title or terrible jokes aren’t enough of a clue, this is actually a modern Goldilocks retelling. I’ve got to say, I’ve never come across its like until now and this makes it practically a dream come true for a reviewer! It’s completely and utterly unique!
Before I picked this up, I was familiar with Cait’s awesome blog @Paper Fury (who isn’t?) had read A Thousand Perfect Notes and obviously *loved* the writing style- which is why I couldn’t wait to pick this up.
After that I knew I simply had to read it. And boy did it deliver the goods! With delightful attention to detail and impressive technique, Cait paints a picture of the perfect family colliding with an intruder. In her signature style, the images are acutely drawn and the characters are brought to life.
Before I get to anything else, I have to say I liked the “before” and “after” element (which, yes, I’ve stolen for my review ). I especially appreciated the way it addressed the darkness lurking in his past and how it was effectively built up over time. I thought the representation across the board was expertly handled and allowed this book to be incredibly hard hitting. It was so intense that I was holding my breath for pages at a time. And on top of that, it got better and better as the story progressed!
After I got into the narrative though, I realised it’s not a gloomy view of the world! There is plenty of light that shines through; there are quiet moments that make themselves heard. The story and romance melted my heart with its cuteness. It was funny and sweet and made me *feel all the feels* (I’m not crying, you are!) It’s safe to say, this book snatched up my heart and ran away with it. I can only give it all the bananas in the hopes I might trade it back:
Rating: 5/5 bananas
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Ooooh friends, Cait has outdone herself. That was legit my first thought when I finished this book. Like, I really freaking liked  A Thousand Perfect Notes . But I am glad that I saved my elusive "favorites bell" for this one, because it just blew me away. And now, I shall tell you why.

•How the hell does Cait write in a way that makes you forget you're reading? Look, no matter how much I like a book, I am a pretty consistent "how far did I get?" reader. That's just how I roll. But an actual hour passed without me once looking at my Kindle and I genuinely couldn't believe it. This happens to me so, so rarely, and it's only the most special of books that can do it. But when I was reading this book, I felt like I was among friends- it didn't feel like reading, it felt... natural. 

•The characters are the most precious cinnamon rolls in the history of baked goods. SAM. I adore thee. I actually worried a little about the premise when I first heard it- would I be able to empathize with a dude who is literally breaking the law on the reg? Um, yes, you ridiculous fool, of course you will! Sam had a special place in my heart from moment one because my son Sam is also a precious cinnamon roll, but also, because this Sam is so fiercely protective of his brother Avery. Their love and devotion simply oozes off the page, and tbh we do not see enough strong brother relationships in books like... ever. 

•Okay this kind of goes along with that last point but... holy crap I am in love with the De Lainey family. Can they adopt me? Or maybe I have to adopt them I am kind of sketchy on the details but I need them okay? This family is just... everything. And I know that isn't the best way to describe something, but just trust me that you need them in your life. I still think about them like, every time I read about any other family because no one will ever compare, sorry everyone else. 

•#Ownvoices autism rep! For me, the best thing about this was how completely authentic the representation of Avery was, but also how completely on point the stigma he faced was. I have worked for over a decade with kids with autism, and I know one of the biggest struggles for families is what happens when they aren't little kids with autism anymore- because the world simply is less kind to adults with autism. The author wrote all about her #ownvoices experience here, so be sure to check this out for more in depth discussion! 

•Good lord, the feels! I sobbed like a baby, I won't lie to you. There were laughs obviously, and happy tears, but this book gut punched me quite a few times. These beautiful humans, being so wholly unwanted, it's devastating. And it is devastating because this stuff happens and it is so mind-blowingly unfair that it's hard to process. 

•It deals with some gritty topics, but they're handled with care. I mean, you've got youth homelessness, legal trouble, and abuse, to name a few, but they are all done really well. The fact that the characters have these flaws only makes them more relatable, and makes you want them to succeed that much more. 

Bottom Line: I devoured this book. It tackles some seriously tough issues with grace through the stories of characters you can't help but fall in love with.
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Thanks to Hachette Children's Group and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

Despite the subject matter this story manages to be very sweet, full of hope, kindness and a (for me, much needed) reminder of the good examples of humanity.

The novel follows Sam, a homeless teen who along with his autistic brother Avery, engages in petty crime to get by. This includes pickpocketing, shoplifting and burglary/squatting aka 'stealing houses'. Sam and Avery come from a broken home, their mother abandoned them in childhood and their physically abusive father dumped them on an aunt who wanted nothing to do with them. 

One evening Sam breaks into a house owned by the eclectic DeLainey family. Assuming tat they are away on holiday, he is more than a little surprised upon waking up the next morning to find them very much present. During his attempt to sneak out he is assumed to be a friend of one of the DeLainey brothers and is soon sucked into the hubub of their lives.

There is a lot to unpack in this novel. The echoes and consequences of Sam and Avery's childhood abuse carry through to their present and the cycle of crime and violence seems impossible for both of the boys to shake. Avery also suffers from discrimination as a result of his autism and Sam takes on the role of his defender with sometimes tragic results.  

The hopelessness of poverty and homelessness is also explored. The brothers feel a desperate need to put down roots and find themselves a home, something which seems eternally out of reach despite Sam 'stealing' houses.

The character relationships in the book were one of its real strengths. Moxie, one of the DeLainey siblings, is great fun and the dynamic she has with the rest of her (HUGE) family felt vibrant and real. The romance element of the story was sweet without going overboard and descending into schmaltz or taking over the rest of the story. 

The dynamic between Sam and Avery was the most compelling relationship to me. It's hard not to feel for the two of them and what they have endured. The fierce love that they have for each other was both heartbreaking and touching.

I honestly couldn't pin down where this story was set. It 'felt' like it was based in the UK but the terms for things e.g. "pants", "bucks" etc made me wonder. I'm guessing Australia maybe? It doesn't really matter, I was just curious when reading. 

Overall, this book is very good if a somewhat tough read at times. Despite the subjecy matter, there is also a great deal of hope and joy to be found in these pages. I will look to share this book with my students when looking at topics relating to Youth Offenders and the Impact of Childhood Poverty and Abuse.
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The Boy Who Steals Houses was a thoughtful read, which didn't preach but made me so mad because of the events it described.
Sam is only fifteen. His mum left some years ago and his father is a violent man who regularly beats up Sam's elder brother, Avery, because of his autism. We are told this back-story in fits and starts, and it is tough to take. Dumped on an aunt, the boys are beaten and vilified by an adult who really should know better. They slip through the cracks - because nobody cares enough to look - and end up running away.
We follow Sam as he drifts in and out of other people's houses. He's aware that what he's doing is, technically, theft, but he is more keen to pocket a key from each place he enters so that he develops a feeling of security/of belonging somewhere.
One day he enters a home that feels like somewhere he could belong. It's messy and yet there's a sense of homeliness to it. When Sam ends up asleep upstairs when the family return, it's the kind of unimaginable situation that you could only get away with in fiction. However, in this chaotic household, everyone seems to thinks am is a friend of someone else so he joins them. Over the course of a summer he stays with the De Lainey family and gets closer to Moxie, who has her own issues.
It's clear from the beginning that Sam is hiding something. We don't know exactly what, but guess it's bad. 
As Sam tries to run away from the events that have been building, things get a lot worse.
While this is pretty bleak, there's a sense that Sam might - with care and hard work - make it to a better place. Much as I'd like to know, there's something really nice about where we leave Sam at the end of this novel.
Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this prior to publication.
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I was not prepared for how emotionally destroyed I was going to feel at the end of this. I should have because pretty much everything I have seen about this book has warned me. BUT I IGNORED THEM. DON'T DO A ME AND IGNORE IT. EVEN IF YOU ARE DEAD INSIDE YOU WILL FEEL THINGS.

The Boy Who Steals Houses is about fifteen-year-old Sammy Lou and his older brother Avery, who happens to have autism. The brothers are homeless and, as the title suggests, steal houses. Then one day, the family of a house he has stolen come home and Sam is still there... It is a genderbent retelling of Goldilocks. Honestly, I was so excited to read this when I heard about that. I've read Beauty and the Beast retellings, and heard of Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland retellings. But Goldilocks? Never. Not until The Boy Who Steals Houses. It was done so, so well and is now one of my absolute favourite retellings!

'He doesn't break into houses because he enjoys stealing. He stalks vacant windows and tricks locks and sleeps in stolen beds because he just wants to be home.' 

I'll admit I was slightly intimidated to read this book because of how much of a HUGE presence C.G. Drews has and just how loved she is from everyone who has been following her for years (honestly such an inspiration to those of us who want to transition from blogger to blogger AND author), and she's so sweet that I wanted to love this book. I didn't just love this book because of who wrote it but because it was such a strong, well-written, and soul-crushing story. Her writing style was one of my absolute favourite parts of this book because you don't just feel for Sam, but you also feel like you know him. He may be fictional but you can feel his soul from the way it's written. 

I absolutely adored the characters. Sam... oh, man, what can I say about Sammy Lou. He broke my heart. At just fifteen, he should be moaning about school work, falling in love and out of love and in love again, and running carefree and reckless through the summer holidays in only a way that a fifteen-year-old can... but he's not. Instead, he has no home, no parents, and no other family other than his older brother, Avery, who has autism and who hangs around with a questionable crowd. All Sam dreams about is having his own front door to his very own house. Until then, he steals houses. All I wanted throughout the book was for Sam to find a family and to have his own home. I wanted someone to wrap him up in a burrito blanket and keep him warm and keep him safe. I don't cry often when reading but I almost did several times while reading this. Sam is both soft and sensitive but also rash and violent. He is imperfect. But he tries. He tries so goddamn hard. And for that reason you can't help but love him.

'No one saves Sammy. It's OK, right? He's used to it. So long as his brother is safe.'

Moxie was a delight. Witty, sassy, and incredibly smart, Moxie is a girl after my own heart. We also have our love of caramel in common as well (seriously, make sure you have a caramel treat handy when you read this book, or some brownies maybe, because this book WILL MAKE YOU HUNGRY). I related so much with Moxie and adored her character so much.

The De Lainey's are an unconventional family with a lot of children and a doting father. I have never once wanted to be a part of such a large family but the scenes with the De Lainey children and their interactions with their dad made me wish for it for a few seconds. While there are a lot of children, I remember every single one of their names because they deserve it. It can be hard to remember side characters at times, especially when they're not in it for long, but each of the De Lainey kids had unique personalities and played a huge role in developing Sam into who he is by the end of the book just as much as his own brother.

The standout part of this book for me was the autism rep! It's also an #ownvoices rep for autism. I'm such an advocate for supporting #ownvoices books. There is something so authentic about reading them for me that really hits me deep. Never underestimate the value that #ownvoices authors have. But back to the rep - this was one of the best autism reps I have seen in a book. Avery stims and he has tics and he still functions. This rep will break down any misconceptions and stereotypes that people will have when it comes to autism and how you can't be functioning if you stim or have tics. What I love about this is how Avery does not let his autism stop him from doing anything. He gets a job, he has friends (although those friends are questionable), and he adores his brother. Avery is one of those characters who will break your heart and then put the pieces back together again one fragment at a time.

This was a very a sweet, heartwarming read (once you get past the bit where your heart breaks). If that sounds like your kinda thing then pick up a copy of this when it releases tomorrow.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Children's Group for providing me with an ARC of The Boy Who Steals Houses in exchange for an honest review.
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