Title: The Boy Who Steals Houses
Author: C.G. Drews
Category: Young Adult
Series info: Standalone book
Can two broken boys find their perfect home?
Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie.
But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.
I’ve been waiting for this book ever since Cait AKA C.G. Drews AKA PaperFury posted the first sneak peak. I knew then that just like A Thousand Perfect Notes, this would slowly crack my heart until it’s in pieces. And I couldn’t wait.
“If Aunt Karen doesn’t want us, we can find our own house.” Sammy takes Avery’s hand to cross the road.
“Can you do that?” Avery whispers. “Steal houses?”
“Yeah,” Sammy says. “Yeah, of course I can.”
The book follows Sammy Lou, a fifteen year old boy and his autistic older brother Avery. They’ve been homeless for over a year, and all they want is to buy a house of their own. These two boys have a lot of scars, with their dad beating them up to their aunt not ready to accept their flaws. They’re running and hiding and making do with the dream of having a home someday.
One day, Sammy breaks into a house and falls asleep, expecting no one. But when he wakes up, the house is buzzing with activity. He tries to stealthily leave, expecting the house owners to throw him out or report him to the police. What actually happens, shocks him.
The DeLaney family, comprising of a dad and 8 children, are joined by many of theirs friends resulting in chaos on that day at their home. Every person who sees Sammy assumes that he is a friend of one of their siblings. Sammy is told to grab food and a seat before he has to sit with the babies.
Sammy is shocked, and very wary. But he won’t turn down food.
“He’s officially taken house burglary to the next level. Forget stealing a bed, a key, a home for the night. He’s stealing families and their Sunday lunches.”
From there starts Sammy’s weird relationship with the DeLaneys where they don’t actually know how he came there and he doesn’t want to leave because their home is comfortable. Sammy also ends up liking Moxie DeLaney, the beautiful and bossy one of the family.
Sammy gets caught up in their lives, but is also afraid of when his life and past will catch up with theirs.
All of my thoughts:
- I almost cried in public.
No, I’m not kidding. I was reading it in college when it just made me SO SAD that I got tears in my eyes. I had to take a break and blink really fast so I won’t cry.
- This book will break your heart.
Cait has a way of writing books and conjuring up plots which are prime to BREAK YOUR H E A R T. I started the book with a “bring it on and break my heart” attitude but I was still not ready for the way it happened. The book hit me slowly and slowly, cracking my heart until one scene just broke me.
- Sammy Lou was flawed and real.
I saw multiple facets of Sammy in the book—the younger brother, the boy longing for a home, the boy who wants to stop running, the boy who liked a girl, the protector fighting against anyone who hurts the people he loves, the boy who is an expert at picking locks and stealing, and the boy wanting a family more than anything.
All of it made Sammy so real. I got attached to Sammy right from the start. I just wanted to hug him and take him home. I loved getting to know Sammy and going on this journey with him.
- Sammy and Avery’s relationship was too pure.
The two brothers have been together through so much—from their dad beating them and abandoning them, to their aunt not wanting them; from Avery being bullied to them running away together in search of a home. They have been through so much and the strength of their bond shows it. But the cracks in their bond shows just how tired both of them are.
Just seeing some moments between them in the book broke my defenses down. I couldn’t handle it.
“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.”
- Moxie was like solace to Sammy, and I felt it too.
Good writing makes you understand what the characters are going through. Great writing makes you feel it too.
Sammy started liking Moxie and even though he kept holding himself back, he couldn’t really hold himself back. Sammy steals moments with Moxie saying it’ll be the last before he leaves but those moments make him feel at peace.
“Moxie’s body relaxes and her shoulder leans against his. The pressure is warm and soft and everything. And he falls into it. Just a little. He won’t let himself get too comfortable – he’s not that stupid. But for the barest moment between patchwork frowns, he’s wanted.”
- I loved Moxie.
She’s confident and bossy, which she has to be to get her way in a house full of men. Moxie is confident voicing her opinions, and I LOVED that. She’s also really talented in fashion. Her hobby and love is to make clothes.
Ever since the DeLaney mum passed away, she’s been saddled with the duty to take care of the baby DeLaneys. Even though she understands that someone has to, and her dad has a lot on his plate, she hates that she’s seen as the substitute mum. One of the babies even calls her mom and she’s frustrated and worn thin. She just wants to be herself.
Moxie was real, too. I loved her, empathized with her, rooted for her, and wanted the best for her.
- Sammy becoming a part of the DeLaney family was so nice and also sad to see.
Watching Sammy being around a true family who love each other was like watching a baby human trying to walk. Sammy was scared the whole time that they would find out about him and beat him up, or call the police.
Sammy’s experience with adults has never been good and he’s extra scared of Mr. DeLaney. But he can’t bring himself to leave and not come back. He longs for their home, their relationships and their support. He longs to be a part of it, while also feeling guilty that he’s duping them.
“He’s not exactly a stranger anymore. He showed Jack how to do a backflip. Someone tipped sand down his shirt. He gave Moxie a leg up over the chain fence on the way home. He’s eaten their potato salad and worn their clothes.
The trouble is he stole it all, every moment. And that’s the part people don’t overlook. They feel betrayed. Betrayed people have the hardest fists.”
- The ONLY thing I didn’t like about the book is the style of writing Cait uses when she’s writing a particularly sad scene.
“So Sammy Lou
It works well in some areas but not everywhere. Sometimes, I felt that it ruined the mood instead. It was unnecessary.
I definitely suggest this book, especially if you’re looking for a book that will make you feel good but will also completely break your heart.
Cait writes damn well and I can’t wait for her next book.