Wow so it’s been awhile since I properly reviewed a book on here. My life has been busy busy busy. But I have been reading loads! Including The Boy Who Steals Houses by the wonderful C.G. Drews, aka Paperfury. I’ve always looked up to Cait because she’s a great blogger but also a brilliant writer! It’s hard to be so successful at both, but I think Cait is doing really well with her books. Her debut, A Thousand Perfect Notes, which I reviewed last year, broke me into a million pieces, and I’m yet to forgive Cait for that, but I thought I’d still give her second book a go. (Who am I kidding? I was wetting myself with excitement for this book.) Just as I was beginning to heal from her previous
attack on my emotions novel, this book broke me into a million pieces too so oops.
15-year-old Sam has been running for years now. Running from the police, from his aunt, from his past… All he has now is his older brother Avery, and a bag full of keys. He breaks into houses at night in search of a comfort he’s never known: a home. But one day it all goes wrong when a family returns home while Sam is still inside. He is sucked into this whirlwind of a family, and takes a liking to wild but caring Moxie, for the first time in his life feeling like he actually belongs somewhere. But Sam can’t keep running forever. His past still hangs over him, Avery is starting to get into trouble, and any day now this family will discover that he’s not who they think he is…
OUCH this book hurt my heart. And also made me feel physical pain because (be warned) there is quite a bit of violence in this. Which just makes it all the more sad, really. Coming from quite an abusive family, Sam has become accustomed to instinctively turning to violence when it comes to solving certain problems, especially to protect his brother Avery.
Avery is autistic and, although he’s older, Sam has always felt the need to look after him, particularly because they really only have each other to care for them. I liked how their relationship was explored more deeply through flashbacks, when it was naturally stronger as they were spending every day together and had to go through so much by themselves so relied only on each other. In the present, there isn’t really that much of Avery as he has found a place to live, and the brothers seem to have grown a little distant. But I loved how they sort of reunited at the end (spoiler?) with their whole “You and me. We.” thing that gets me all teary because sibling love, ya know? *sniffs*
My favourite times in the book were with the crazy De Lainey family. I would honestly miss them when they weren’t in a chapter, just as, I’m sure, Sam did. I loved having a glimpse into the lives of this family. They were constantly bickering (oooh so relatable) but also they’re having to rely on each other after the loss of their mum and they’re struggling not to fall apart with just one parental figure looking after 7 kids. Moxie is kinda mad (and very tired, bless her) because she has to babysit the two really young kids in the family so she feels like she’s replacing their mum, which makes her angry at her older brothers and father for putting her in that position. This all means that when Sam shows up after, ya know, breaking into their house, it’s clear to see that this wounded family need Sam just as much as he needs them. It’s kind of a story of two families that are both desperately missing something, but they begin to heal when they find each other.
But, while it sounds like this book is all tears and shattered pieces of my heart, I have to say there are way more light-hearted moments than there were in ATPN, so thanks, Cait! Moxie’s older brothers, Jack and Jeremy, are the life and soul of the party and I love ’em to bits, especially Jeremy (the softer twin)!! So yeah you will have a laugh because of them, but also there were lots of other warm, fluffy moments which made the book generally a more enjoyable read.
As expected from Cait, the writing was brilliant. The wit is A+ but also the more serious chapters were filled with emotion and meaning and it was beautiful and heartbreaking to read. And our main characters, Sam and Moxie, were great. Honestly I feel like they’re the kind of people in school who you just wouldn’t expect to be together, but they have fun together, and they really depend on and bring out the best in each other.
I was going to finish by talking about the ending but… I just can’t. Bruh, it broke me. Mr De Lainey’s lil speech about houses and stuff… oh, that got me. Cue the tears. I can feel them. They’re on their way. Sorry I just need to go compose myself… *sobs*
Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣ (9/10)