The Boy Who Steals Houses

Orchard. Jun. 2020. 368p. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781408349922.
Gr 7 Up–Fifteen-year-old Sam and his older brother Avery, who is on the autism spectrum, have been on their own since their mother left them, their father was arrested, and they left their Aunt Karen—who never missed a chance to express how much she didn’t want them. With Avery working at a mechanic shop, Sam spends his nights breaking into vacant houses and trying to find a sliver of what it feels like to have a home. When he breaks into the De Lainey house and they return from their trip earlier than expected, he gets pulled in to the lives of a wild and wonderfully hectic family filled with delicious food, rambunctious siblings, a beautiful girl named Moxie, and a caring father. Sam finds the home he has been searching for, but sees that there is no way to hide from what he has been running from. Every few chapters, readers are taken back to the Lou brothers’ past, filling in the mystery of what made them leave Aunt Karen’s. Chapters set in the present follow Sam as he finds the De Laineys but struggles with his ever-present protective feelings over Avery—which often make him violent. The sadness of the brothers’ past and that of the De Laineys shows readers that grief comes in many forms, but so does hope.
VERDICT A fast-paced read filled with sorrow and hope.

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