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- author Jackie French

Sunday 21 July 2019

Review: The Boy Who Steals Houses

Brothers Sam and Avery are homeless. Abandoned by their mother, nobody else wants them. 

Their abusive father dumps them at Aunt Karen’s house when he can’t cope with Avery’s autism. But she too, finds it impossible to deal with Avery’s uncontrollable movements and disobedience. After a forced lengthy stay they are thrown out.

Sam is also abusive. The injustices of his life have moulded him into a tough and hard teenager, far older than his years. He is Avery’s protector; his brother’s keeper. 

Sam fixes all the messes Avery gets into with his fists. He steals money, purses and food whenever necessary for survival. And he steals houses. 

He is a practised lock-picker, a skill he puts to good use. He cases houses that are empty, assures the owners are away with a check-list of visible signs, picks the lock and occupies the house. But all Sam really wants is a home of his own to share with his brother.

It is during one of these ‘home robberies’ that Sam finds himself in the De Lainey household which turns out to be very much lived in. He is mistaken for a friend of one of the many children cared for by their dad since their mother died. He is welcomed as such for a short time, until caught out by Moxie the eldest girl, sleeping secretly in the untouched study which belonged to her mum.  

Moxie is full of spunk and personality. She covers the con for a while for Sam’s sake, but confronting circumstances bring things to a head. Can Sam’s life be saved by this strange family’s love and acceptance, or will he be exposed just when he has found the home and family he’s longed for?

This is a heart-wrenching yet comical exploration of youth’s misdemeanours and mistakes. The story presents a perfect example of a sturdy structure in a strong family unit, and how regardless of the chaos that comes and goes within that unit, everything works out as long as the central column is strong. The storyline highlights the value of compassion during difficult situations, and how a helping hand in a time of need can take a twisted and broken life and make it whole again.

The characters sizzle on the page. The novel is full of humour, impressive dialogue and situations so real and descriptive I felt I was watching a movie. I loved it, even the sad and ugly parts that were hard to get through. It had me glued to my seat till I had finished the fabulous 350 pages. C G Drews is the author of A Thousand Perfect Notes.

Title: The Boy Who Steals Houses
Author: C G Drews
Publisher: Hachette, $16.99
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781408349922
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction