Author Interview & Book Review: The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews
Author Interview & Book Review:
The Boy Who Steals House by C.G. Drews
Am I a blessed soul for having the opportunity to read the advanced reading copy for this book? YES, and even more blessed to be able to interview C.G. Drews again – who is one of my favourite authors and I hope I can say that she’s also a friend too <3 (see my previous book review & author interview right here)
I’m hoping to be able to buy the physical copy of this book very soon, a huge thanks to my editor at The Nerd Daily (where this review and the author interview will also appear in the near future) and to Hachette Australia via NetGalley.
Here’s the interview first, then you can find my spoiler-free review for The Boy Who Steals Houses below.
Author Interview: A Chat with C.G. Drews
1. Hi Cait! Congrats on the release of your second novel! How does it feel to put out another story into the world for us to devour?
Hi Tracy! It’s so nice to be back on your epic blog again! And oh wow it is SURREAL, in the best possible way. Just knowing I have two books to sit side by side on the shelf is incredibly exciting. Can’t wait to make people cry–erm, sorry, typo there. Can’t wait to make people so happy!
2. I had personally no idea until after I finished the book that this was a gender-bend of Goldilocks (*mentally facepalms cause the clues were right there*), how did that come into play for your ideation? What inspired you to think up of Sam and Avery’s story, especially the concept of ’stealing’ houses?
So I like writing retellings that are mostly my own story, but with nods to the original! For this one, I knew I wanted it to be a genderbent Goldilocks retelling. I also love going for long walks and since I pass by a lot of seemingly empty houses, my author imagination started to work and ask, What if a teen broke in, not to steal, but just to live while the owners were away? It fit solidly with the Goldilocks tale so I meshed them together and The Boy Who Steals Houses slowly came into existence.
3. In this novel, Sam is a bit of a collector when it comes to keys he finds while stealing houses. Are you a collector yourself? Other than books, what’s something you like to hoard collect?
I am a big collector of books for sure haha…I love organising them and honestly get as much pleasure having them in neat rows as with reading them! But as a kid, I was a true magpie too. I collected rocks and buttons and boxes (yes…empty boxes) and pretty material and craft sticks and mugs and anything miniature. Seriously if someone had given me keys, I would’ve collected those too!
4. Similarly to ATPN, there is a certain aspect of violence and dark themes in this book that definitely classifies it as a ‘dark contemporary’, but at its core the importance of family and having a home were very poignant and important themes. If your family has read the book, what did they think? Or, how did your own family life inspire Sam’s dream of having a home & family like the DeLainey’s?
My little sister has read the book and absolutely cracked up at the big family catastrophe scenes…so I think I did something right?! I did let my childhood influence the book a little, what with the family dynamics, the loving sibling insults, and the general chaos of everyone talking at once over dinner. But my characters weren’t based off my siblings (that would have felt weird lol) and while Moxie De Lainey has mostly brothers, I have mostly sisters!
5. I thought it was fantastic to read so much representation and a narrative with #OwnVoices content in this novel. What made you decide or inspired you to depict autism in your novel through Avery?
When I started developing the book, I wanted Sam and Avery to have a very messy and dependent relationship. It sort of unwound naturally that Sam had an anxiety disorder and Avery had autism, and they relied on each other for absolutely everything. I’m really passionate about writing diverse stories and, as a neurodiverse person myself, it felt right to talk about that on the page.
6. As you’ll probably know, many bloggers have aspirations to become authors. How do you manage blogging and writing at the same time? Do you have a set schedule for both? A morning routine?
Oh wow, no, I definitely do not have a schedule and I am in a bit of a mess here! In fact, I’m answering these questions and just realising I haven’t written my blog post for this evening sooo…I do not have it all together! My basic rule is that: I don’t have to do EVERYTHING in one day. So I’ll either spend the day writing OR reading OR blogging. Instead of all 3 at once.
7. This book can definitely be described as a total emotional rollercoaster, and the ability to make someone laugh and/or cry is not something easy. How do you go about drafting & creating these scenes? Do you cry too while writing these? (Or do you evil-laugh at our pain)
I actually have only cried ONCE while writing a scene…and it’s not in this book. I’m not sure if you’ll get to read the book it’s in but…we can hope (mwhahah…it was very emotional). I just really enjoy humour in books and I crave books that pack an emotional punch. So I write both!
8. Lastly, what can we expect from you next? Is there any chance for a sequel or another book in the same world? Do you have any current books working in progress we can know about?
I’m not contracted for any more books sadly, so I’m hoping desperately that The Boy Who Steals Houses does really really well (lots of sales! lots of reviews! lots of love for it!) so that I’ll be able to sell more books. And I wouldn’t say no to the chance of writing a sequel…!
C.G. Drews lives in Australia with her dog, a piano, and the goal of reading every book in existence. Consequently, her brain has overflowed with words and she spends her days writing novel after novel. She blogs at paperfury.com, never sleeps, and believes in cake for breakfast.
The Boy Who Steals Houses Book Review
Here are my slightly rambling thoughts on this beautiful book, but first, blurb time:
Can two broken boys find their perfect home?
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.
Rating: ★★★★★ (4.75/5)
I’m not even surprised that Cait’s writing has, again, made me sob. This book was just jampacked full of emotions and heartfelt-ness I can’t even begin to comprehend it properly so if my writing style is weird and like third-person, it’s probably because I’m just trying to distance myself a bit to avoid crying again. It’s my professional writing mode, I think.
In The Boy Who Steals Houses, we meet the most adorable and love-deserving boy that is Sam. A boy who fiercely loves his brother Avery and just wants to have a home. His character is just so well written with very dark and sensitive flashbacks (there are quite a few trigger warnings in this novel, please be aware).
His personality is endearing and the struggles he’s had to go through are immense for someone his age. He didn’t have the freedom to come into his own independence at around the age he is now but instead, has always been taking care of his older Autistic brother. Sam isn’t a bad person but only seems to be able to protect his brother the one way he knows and that’s by being pretty violent to whoever picks on Avery. The juxtaposition of his kind yet flawed personality doing these acts for the opposite reasons to what his father had when he was physically abusing Sam and Avery makes him question whether he really is a good person because he doesn’t know how else to react to defend himself or his brother. This question of morality hits just as hard as seeing these brothers struggle in flashbacks when they were abandoned to their unloving aunt.
Sam and Avery’s relationship was so complex and well-woven into the story. Sam loves Avery and would do anything for him but having to look after him all the time (especially being the younger brother) begs the questions of who’s looking after Sam? Their past trauma and the autistic representation was brilliantly written, especially Sam’s anxiety symptoms.
When Sam accidentally breaks into a house that is still being lived in, we are introduced to the DeLainey’s who are just the classic, almost cheaper by the dozen big, chaotic family. Despite the noise and the constant stream of people, the DeLainey’s; and specifically the main side characters being a girl Sam’s age named Moxie and her father are the kindest and most charitable people. Their family life might be chaotic but the busy scenes were so full of hilarious banter and just – love, that made me smile a whole lot. The attention to detail in the writing of these scenes was just plain impressive. Each side character has its own story and is brought to life seamlessly.
While some may have seen the general plot line or event timeline as disorganised, I thought it was perfect because it was quite literally an abstract plot for a character that hasn’t had a simple moment of stability and continuity in his life (rip I know). While Sam and Avery definitely made this story quite dark, painful and hard-hitting, this story was definitely one that also makes you smile, laugh and brings you joy and hope through the gorgeous DeLainey family (YES good people still exist in this world). I personally also loved that the romance in this book wasn’t at the forefront of the story because, sorry guys, love doesn’t cure all – especially not poverty or homelessness or violent past traumas/anxieties.
Overall this story had so much impact and made me so emotional. It made me laugh and cry and although I still prefer ATPN, this book was beautiful and perfect and I really hope I get to read and meet these characters again *wink wink nudge nudge* Highly recommend it to anyone looking to get their heart broken a little.
What did you guys think of the book/interview? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,