February 23, 2016
Genres: Coming of Age, Fiction, Historical, Young Adult
eARC provided by Random House, Wendy Lamb Books
Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else. Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother.Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive father.Alyce is staying at home to please her parents. Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers. Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Because if we don't save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves?Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's extraordinary, stunning debut is both moving, and deeply authentic. These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America's Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare and wonderful talent.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses is set in 1970s Alaska. The world is different to child growing up in the 70s, add in the location, Alaska, and we get something pretty unique. I enjoyed this not so typical look at the struggles of teenagers. This book gives us four different POVs. Each person has a different story and enough angst in their life to keep me turning pages.
Ruth. Lost both of her parents. One to an accident, one to the loss of the other one. Ruth lives with her conservative Grandmother. Ruth finds herself in a bad way and is basically sent to live somewhere else until the problem goes away.
Alyce. Just wants to follow her dream but she ends up on the boat fishing with her father. Again.
Dora. Dora has it really bad a home. She tries to escape her life, but when great things happen, she can’t quite accept it.
Hank. Hanks and his brother’s stow away in the hopes of escape. They find themselves in a worse situation then the one they left.
Each person in this story is going through some sort of trauma. Each of these stories run along and then they connect in some way. The interweaving of the characters story lines was pretty brilliant. I loved hearing the thoughts of some of these characetrs. Especially Ruth and Dora. They both personified a lack of self assurance that I think a lot of readers (especially teenage girls who were like me growing up) could really relate to.
My problems with The Smell of Other People’s Houses were all about the characters. Although they all come from different homes they ended up sounding the same. I would have been completely lost if the chapters didn’t have the person’s name in the beginning. All of these characters had the same voice. The situations were hard to keep track of. When the story lines collided I really had trouble keeping track of who was who.
This would have been a fantastic story if it had just one or two POVs. Four was too much and there wasn’t enough of a difference between the voices to make them obvious. I lost interest around 75% and it didn’t get better for me after that. I think this was a good coming of age story, but for me it wasn’t great.