Feb 26, 2016

Review: The Smell of Other People's Houses

Title: The Smell of Other People's Houses
Author: Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Publication Date: 2.23.2016
Series: N/A
Source:  Finished copy from publisher

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. This deeply moving and authentic debut is for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and Benjamin Alire Saenz. Intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America’s Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare talent.
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. This unforgettable book is about people who try to save each other—and how sometimes, when they least expect it, they succeed. 

THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES, at first glance, made me laugh. I mean, come on. That title? How can you not? And then I immediately thought back to any time I had visited my grandparents growing up and that distinct ... smell that always seemed to permeate every single room, couch, and carpet. Scent is one of the biggest triggers for memories, and when I started reading this book, I realized how true it was and how brilliant Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock was to give it that name.

This is a quiet book. It's slight and unassuming, blending in easily on a bookshelf. Set in 1970's Alaska, it starts off as slow as snow falling in the dark, building and twisting into this incredible, powerful story about teenagers that want to escape the world they're destined to always live in.

At its core, THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES is about failing and failing again, but never quitting. Following Ruth and Dora and Alyce and Hank (and I gotta shout out to my girl Dumpling, because I loved her), was heartbreaking and inspiring. I loved the way Hitchcock seamlessly wove all these stories together, creating a rich tapestry for the entire book that left me completely sated by the end.

This is a beautiful book because it simply relies on the complexities of being human to tell a great story. 

Purchase: Amazon


  1. I've been curious about this one since I saw it. That title alone makes me want to dive right in. Great review!


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