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Published by Wendy Lamb Books on February 23rd 2016
Format: ARC, ebook
Source: Publisher Provided
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I received this book for free from Publisher Provided in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock was born and raised in Alaska. She worked many years fishing commercially with her family and as a reporter for Alaska Public Radio stations around the state. She was also the host and producer of “Independent Native News,” a daily newscast produced in Fairbanks, focusing on Alaska Natives, American Indians, and Canada’s First Nations. Her writing is inspired by her family’s four generations in Alaska.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses is one of those books that has you hooked from the start not because of the epic action or crazy opening scene, but because the writing and story telling are so beautiful you are just sucked in. Hitchcock does an amazing job of just letting the story and the characters shine and this will be a book we’ll be hearing about come award and must read list season.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little scared when I first started reading the book, there’s a really long list of characters at the start explaining who’s where and how they fit together. I quickly flipped passed it thinking I’ll meet them as I read and I’m not going to let this scare me off. I’m SO glad I took that approach. Yes, there are a lot of characters, but they all just help make the world of 1970’s Alaska come to life. The large number of characters and having a bit of a hard time keeping them straight in my head is the only criticism I have of this book.
The story is told from four points of view, Ruth, Hank, Alyce & Dora, all from different backgrounds and show how diverse and interconnected life can be. Each of our four point of voice character’s stories are so different and individual, but they all collide at the end showing that no matter how different you are, native vs. white, rich vs. poor, well loved vs. abandoned, we are all connected and not really that different. I could go into explaining who everyone is, but I think I’ll let you meet them when you read the book, because this is a MUST read story, and Hitchcock’s introductions are WAY better than anything I could do. But know this, these four characters will stick with you long after you finish the book. Their spirit and determination to not let their situations define their lives truly memorable and motivational.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses is the perfect name for this story. As a person who doesn’t like strong smells, it was great being able to live that richness of how smells can invoke a memory or feeling through words. Hitchcock does an amazing job bringing Alaska to life by describing the smell of the houses and the places these characters go. It’s a great descriptive tool that is used through the whole book to great affect and is really the staple of this story. Ruth tells us about her two worlds, one of living on a homestead that smelled of fresh meat and the out doors and the other of a house in town that smells of cleaning products. Alyce and Hank bring the ocean’s salt filled air to life. Hitchcock doen’t give us a great description of what’s in the rooms or how beautiful the scenery is, but the description of the smells of each location is just as strong a visual as anything I’ve ever read.
Thanks to Random House Children’s Books, we have one (1) copy of The Smell of Other People’s Houses to giveaway!! Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter, US only, and no PO Boxes because the book is being shipped directly from the publisher. All of our other standard rules apply.
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