I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.The Smell Of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Published by Random House on February 23, 2016
Genres: Young Adult
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.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses almost reads like short story collection, at first, but then you start to realize that all of the characters fit together and their lives intertwine in the best of ways. The timing of the perspective changes was very well done and kept the momentum going. When you change perspectives from more than two points of view, I think it’s easy to allow the story to get a bit muddled, but that did not happen here. Each voice had their own story, but they also provided some insight into the other stories, as well. It was an excellent way of getting a full 360 degree view of everyone. There were all types of families in this book, some more functional than others. It also highlighted the melting pot of cultures that was Alaska in the 70s and most likely is today, as well. The stories were engaging and heartbreaking, at times, and while some made me sad, it was still a very hopeful book.
From a strictly historical perspective, it was interesting to read about a state that was so newly into its statehood. The book is set in 1970, and many of the parents mentioned worked against statehood in the effort to escape what they viewed as too much government interference. That aspect of the story, and the way that it was so clearly still a frontier town, gave the book an interesting feel. It also made the idea of community so important. They felt apart from the rest of the country and they had strict rules about taking care of each other. The Smell of Other People’s Houses was beautifully written and fascinating storytelling. While a very short book, it managed to make me run the gamut of emotions while I read it and it definitely has a place on my recommended reading list.