Okay, so for those who want the news here and now and won’t care to read the whole post – The Boy Who Steals Houses was awesome! You ABSOLUTELY need to buy it now! I loved A Thousand Perfect Notes, so I was a little worried to read the book that came after it. What if I didn’t like it as much? What if its not for me?
Fortunately, I never needed to worry. It’s not just as good – it’s BETTER. It’s so adorable, moving and full of feelings, with so many squishy soft and lovely characters that you’ll just gobble it up. I can’t wait to hear more about these characters. I want all the spin-offs!
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★★★★★ 5 stars
Sam steals houses. No, he doesn’t rob houses. Although he might borrow a key for memory and some stray cash. But he always tries to leave unnoticed. Sam steals houses for a week or two – to just have a place to live when nobody’s home. To be able to feel safe for a little while. To feel, no – to imagine that he belongs somewhere. Anywhere.
And this goes fine for a while for Sam. I mean, as fine as it can go, considering that he’s a teen who doesn’t know what he’ll eat or where he’ll sleep tomorrow. At least, it goes fine until Sam steals a house that’s not empty, as it turns out. Enter the De Laineys… And Sam’s life will never be the same anymore.
PaperFury AKA C.G. Drews Always Makes You Root For The Underdog
I don’t have a single hint of an idea how she does this, but I have a feeling that if Cait decided to write a story with a piece of furniture as the main character, three pages in you’d already be weeping about how the poor chair doesn’t have padding and how it has been left outside in the rain to rot and that’s unfair. These characters are always so loveworthy, and they need ALL the love because nobody seems to have ever given them any! And so here I am, 40 pages in, and already wishing I could pull Sam out of the page, give him some good warm food and some kindness. It’s just how Cait writes! And it’s irresistible.
A GIF of the Puss in Boots from Shrek, making those cute irresistible begging eyes
And Again, With The Siblings
You might not know this, but Cait comes from a large family herself – which I feel is an experience she really harnessed when writing The Boy Who Steals Houses. I come from a single-child household, and more than that, I only had one parent when growing up. Our house was always quiet and I can’t even imagine so many people in it at once. So maybe its no surprise that I loved reading about a family so big that people even get mixed up who is who’s friend. While I know there are definite benefits to not having to fight over your stuff with your siblings, I also look at this “full house” situation with a sort of wistfulness. It could have been fun to grow up that way! And it definitely is fun reading about it.
A GIF of a cute puppy giving puppy kisses to his or her sibling… and then rudely trying to wake him or her up with a punch in the face
But Sam And Avery Share More Than Just A Sibling Bond It Seems
A Thousant Perfect Notes had a heavy sibling love theme, but The Boy Who Steals Houses goes a step further – it’s not just sibling love, it’s also being one another’s only family. There’s also the fact that Avery, Sam’s brother, needs more than just Sam’s love – he needs Sam’s care and maybe his protection, because he is autistic, and the world is hard enough to navigate already when you don’t have a family, a home and a future – but for Avery, it’s even harder, because to top all of this off, nobody takes him for who he truly is and nobody understands how he feels or why he feels the way he does – no one but Sam. Because nobody else cares to – being autistic to most outsiders is just a label – they don’t tend to think of the person behind the label. Which is why Avery needs Sam so much more than any other sibling really would.
Except… Does Avery really need all that care? Or maybe it’s just that Sam refuses to believe Avery also needs (and wants) to grow up – and, can, in fact, grow up – although maybe not quite in the way people imagine he should. This isn’t only a story of how Avery needs care. It’s about how Sam also needs to let Avery go and accept that he is also his own person. That even while he might need more help than others, he doesn’t need to constantly be babied. He can also think for himself, he can have independent ideas and talk to people Sam doesn’t know, do things Sam doesn’t know he does. Sam refuses to understand this, and I believe this points to a more common problem autistic people might have – of their families refusing to understand their need, and especially their capability of independence. Every autistic person has their own abilities and limits, but I believe a lot of them are capable of more independence than their families think they are, and this is what Avery and Sam’s relationship are trying to bring to light. (For those who don’t know, I’d like to also mention that this comes from an #ActuallyAutistic author.)The Boy Who Steals Houses by an #ActuallyAutistic author points to the problem of autistic people's families struggling to let them have independence when they need it and want it. Click To Tweet
Real kids, Real Problems
Another thing I liked about the Boy Who Steals Houses is that it doesn’t make things black in white. Sam, the main character, had a tough past, a complicated childhood. Thats why his life isn’t anything to brag about, and you absolutely can’t call him a good kid. Except he is – he is an extreme softie. Even despite his short fuse and the fact that he’s technically a juvenile criminal. And that’s the thing – he’s been forced to make most of those choices that make his past – whether directly or indirectly. Someone isn’t only bad or only good (well, maybe barring a few real maniacs, but you know what I mean.) People are a sum of their choices and circumstances. And that’s why, especially with troubled teens, it’s important to remember that a lot of problematic ones didn’t end up that way as a choice. And that bad choices in one’s past don’t necessarily mean the person is all bad. A bad choice is a bad choice, but that’s not the only choice in their whole lives. And that’s why we can see Sam as a realistic character – he definitely has both good and bad sides alike.
“You can do monstrous things and not be a monster.”
That’s actually a quote from the book. And I know I shouldn’t be quoting advance review copies, but I’m pretty sure this sentence won’t change, because it’s in the core of what the book is about. It’s like I said before, real kids – real problems. And Sam has a temper problem. I can relate, as I also have something of a short fuse, also from my dad, just like Sam. But thankfully due to my girl upbringing, I only used to take it out on objects or verbally (girls are way more heavily discouraged from physical fighting than boys.) So I loved seeing Sam’s portrayal: how he struggles with his violent streak, how he strives to not be like his dad, but when life is tough, its so hard to resist to “try to make things right”. I loved seeing this outlook, that even despite these things, it’s your choices that make who you are, and all of us sometimes do horrible stuff. But we also have the power to change them the next time.'You can do monstrous things and not be a monster' – one of the main points of The Boy Who Steals Houses by @paperfury is that people are a sum of their choices and circumstances: Click To Tweet
A GIF of an animated heart, bouncing in two palms, also holding out the shape of a heart
If I could, I would give The Boy Who Steals Houses 15 stars. Of gold. Because it’s just that good. It’s a quick read, and you will just not go to sleep until you’ve read it in one sitting! Everything forms a cohesive story, and everything talks about the same thing (even the romance, which I didn’t mention much, but which is so well done!) And that is that the way monsters are made is when people are completely starved of love. Everyone needs to be loved. Even if they sometimes don’t seem deserving of it. And everyone needs a family. (Especially if that family is the De Laineys. Trust me. I dare you to not fall in love with them.)
I thank the publisher for giving me a free e-copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange to my honest opinion. Receiving the book for free does not affect my opinion.
But Beware Of The Triggers
This is PaperFury we’re talking about, and in her dark and stabby heart of hearts she will not let a book reach your hands without some triggers in it! (LOL) Anyway, triggers include
So are you looking forward to reading The Boy Who Steals Houses? And do you love squishy and soft loveable characters?
I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.