The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

The Smell of Other People's Houses

“We don’t have to be blood to be family.”

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.

Personal Thoughts:

The Smell of Other People’s Houses is surprisingly absorbing read. It’s a powerful story that offers a truly unique reading experience with its melancholic and quiet tales of life’s hardships and uncertainties.

The title alone, piqued my interest to read this book, it has this metaphorical vibe in it, that I feel like there’s a real interesting story behind that title, which just makes me want to discover the real deal. And after reading the book, I finally see how Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock match the smell of houses to her characters and their stories. Because the smell of houses tell so much more about the people living inside it.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses is told from multiple points of view – Ruth, Dora, Alyce, and Hank, these four characters who are experiencing life’s difficulties and hardships. Each of them has their own story to tell, which means readers can actually read each part as one whole story but at the same time Hitchcock also intertwined their stories into one, creating a more powerful tale.

“I remember my dad saying that sometimes you can be inserted into another person’s life just by witnessing something you were never really supposed to be a part of.”

Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock writing style is uniquely atmospheric. I’m sure I haven’t encounter something like it before. At first, I don’t know what to expect, the first chapter kinda throw me unexpectedly but once I get the hang of the writing style, I get to appreciate the uniqueness of it. Hitchcock descriptions of 1970 Alaska is easy to imagine and the life of her characters are vividly described. So vivid that I can easily feel their struggles, hopes, and dreams. That sometimes I wish there’s something I can do for them to feel more better. And the way Hitchcock tied all those characters together is simply impressive.

All in all, The Smell of Other’s People Houses is a unique addition to young adult genre. With sympathetic characters, atmospheric settings, and writing format that offers a unique reading experience this debut novel from Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock deserves to be experience and appreciated. It’s haunting, heart-wrenching, and more importantly beautifully crafted.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children via NetGalley.