The Boy Who Steals Houses
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow? Buy
Source: ARC copy gifted by Team BKMRK in exchange for an honest review

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.

After CG Drews' earth-shatteringly brilliant debut novel, A Thousand Perfect Notes, I had high expectations going into this book. I will admit that after reading the synopsis, I wasn't immediately drawn in, but from the very first page, any reservations I had were forgotten and I was utterly lost in the story.

Before I go any further into this review, please note that this review may contain talk of domestic abuse and violence. The book also explores these themes in great detail.

The story focuses on fifteen-year-old Sam, in an almost Goldilocks-style retelling. Sam, and his older brother Avery are homeless. Through a series of heartbreaking, (unfortunately) believable events, Sam and Avery are left to fend for themselves with no friends, and no family. Although Avery is older than Sam, Avery lives with autism and Sam feels as though it's his responsibility to help them both get the most out of their lives.

Sam tries to get through life by breaking into temporarily vacant houses, and staying there until it's rightful owner returns. It highlights the stark reality of how some people live; and the insight makes you empathise over situations that you may not have done before. This book is so informative on the realities of living without a home, and the pain I felt for these characters was so sincere. Although (obviously) not agreeing with some decisions they made, it was so easy to understand why they felt like they had to.

Sam breaks into a house one day, and to his horror, wakes up the following morning to a bustling household. The De Lainey house is gloriously manic, and Sam is swept up in the chaos of it all, and mistaken as one of the children's friends. Sam's never belonged, and never felt wanted; but something about the De Lainey house makes him feel like home...

I wouldn't want to say much more about the plot, because uncovering Sam's story is something you need to do yourself.

On paper, Sam shouldn't be likeable. He makes terrible decisions, he's short-tempered, he's flaky - but his flaws somehow make me connect to him more. Again, I may not agree with the things he says or does, but I understand wholeheartedly why he makes the decisions he does.

Sibling dynamics aren't something I often see written about in YA, especially brothers; so exploring the relationship between Sam and Avery was something I really enjoyed. Like every relationship, it isn't perfect; but their love for each other is admirable. I found their relationship one of the most genuine things in the book; as it was so honest, raw, and most importantly, real. They're always somehow drawn back to each other, because that's the closest thing they have to a home. They're each other's security blankets, and it's beautifully done.

The De Lainey's are the heart and soul of this book. They waltz into the book like a breath of fresh air, and by the end, you feel like you're part of the family. Every warm and fuzzy scene in this book contains them; and although their scenes aren't always happy, their positivity and hope radiates from every page.

CG Drews' writing style is stunning. Without a single trace of magic, she somehow transports you to a different world - and that's the true wonder of this book. Much like A Thousand Perfect Notes, it's heartbreakingly beautiful, and a book to get lost in for hours. Truly gorgeous.

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