The Smell of Other People's Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses

Book - 2016
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"Growing up in Alaska in the 1970s isn't like growing up anywhere else: Don't think life is going to be easy. Know your place. And never talk about yourself. Four vivid voices tell intertwining stories of hardship, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Wendy Lamb Books, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780553497786
Characteristics: 227 pages : map ; 22 cm
Call Number: Y HITCHCOCK, B


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Jun 18, 2018

I love stories like this where there are multiple well-written characters that you know are going to connect but you're not sure how until the end. I read the ending with my breath held. Such a great story! Easy read, too- only 200 pages.

Nov 02, 2017

The Smell of Other People’s Houses, by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock will transport you into another world. I first read the book and then followed it up with the audio format and I savored every moment. Hitchcock’s descriptions are rich, highly sensory, and there is just enough magic realism to balance the heavy issues the teens are dealing with: abusive parents, alcoholism, poverty, teen pregnancy, death, and incest. Unflinchingly honest, and yet Hitchcock manages to weave all the loose ends into a comforting (and happy) ending.

What I most loved about TSOPH is that not only are the issues real, but the characters in the book also believable, i.e. regular teenagers who are trying to figure things out, making mistakes, and learning who to trust. Each voice is unique; these are real people and relationships-you can just feel it. The readers for the audio book also kept me captivated with their spot-on performances.

BTW, in the 1980s and 90s I lived and taught in Alaska for sixteen years, north of the Arctic Circle and in both rural and urban schools; I understand what it means to live “outside”.
Note: The Smell of Other People’s Houses has made it my list of all-time favorite Alaskan reads: Snow Child/Eowen Ivey, Flight of the Goose/Lesley Thomas, Ordinary Wolves/Seth Kantner, and Drop City/T.C. Boyle.

These stories are woven together in such a delicate way it's hard to imagine Alaska without these four teens in 1970's Alaska. It doesn't even feel like historical fiction at times, the hardships these young adult face: unwanted pregnancy, poverty, and abuse are still timely.

ArapahoeCatherine Sep 15, 2016

While this one was a bit more realistic/issue-y than I like my books, I appreciated the very authentic look into the lives of four teens living in Alaska just as it became a state in the 1970s. The writing was beautiful, if quiet. I liked the almost vignette style that gave us snapshots of lives, rather than an entirely fluid narrative.

May 13, 2016

Truly wonderful writing, with well developed characters. It really felt as if Alaska were one of those characters! Loved it.

Apr 02, 2016

Excellent book set in Alaska with interesting characters whose lives all intertwine in an unusual way. Adoption, teen pregnancy, abuse poverty, traditions were all addressed.

Mar 24, 2016

This book, with its gorgeous cover art and come-read-me title is kind of a liar. This book lies with an alluringly vague blurb. 40% in, my brain started to fizz and I wondered what I might have done in the past to deserve this mish mash of mush. I guess that's why it's YA? Although I give way more credit to the YA generation than this boring book about nothing.

I was really looking forward to reading a dark family story, learning about Alaska, Alaskan people, and still get my historical fiction fix without having to dip into classics, or novels full of pinafores. Although there's something still naggingly delightful about this book -- oh, wait, it's still just the cover art and title. Never mind. Not recommended, not because it's horrible in any particular way, but it's just not good enough in any particular way.

Offences include: Non-plot, characters that remain too flat to connect to, and writing that's neat and polite, but boring like a test pattern.

It seems I'm in the minority though! People are going bonkers over this book, so I'd love to talk about it with other readers.

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