Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Genres: Young Adult and Historical Fiction
Selling points: Captivating story as well as raw and relatable characters.
Synopsis: In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.
Four very different lives are about to become entangled.
Thank you Netgalley for my review copy of The Smell of Other People’s Houses!
The Smell of Other People’s Houses is a rarity you don’t see often. There’s something about this book that’s so incredibly captivating. The way it’s written and the voice Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock has in this book is so incredibly magical. She draws you in and makes you take the same journey as the characters you read about. Something we don’t often think about is how everyone and everything around us has a distinct smell. Your mom, when you hug her, the smell of her hair is the smell of security. The smell of your house, your school, your lover’s house. Even if you don’t think about, they all smell different and they all represent something different to you. These four main characters that we follow through the book convey this and shows us how something as trivial as the smell can mean so much and how it can play such an important part in one’s life. A perfect example of that is a quote from the first chapter:
“He knew how to French-kiss, which tasted like a forest of promises once I got used to it. Because I was Catholic, and smelled stiff instead of wild, he promised not to do anything but touch me lightly and only in certain places, where the smell wouldn’t give me away when I went back to my own house, which held nothing but the faint scent of mold in secondhand furniture—also known as guilt and sin.”
From the very first page to the last it’s like we’ve traveled through time and space to see these extraordinary, raw and unique journeys that these characters go on. It feels almost otherworldly even if 40 years ago isn’t that far back in time and Alaska is a place most of us know where it is. Nevertheless, The Smell of Other People’s Houses shows us true human emotions, connections, and struggles that are all highly relatable and relevant which is also what makes this book so great. The Smell of Other People’s Houses is complex, diverse, dark and magical. It’s a book I would recommend to everyone who isn’t afraid to read something they haven’t before.