It’s that time of the year again when summer slowly and then quickly begins to slip away and everyone begins to go back to their actual lives. Some people hate the change in weather or the going back to school but I think we should embrace it! Plus, rainy days are the best kind for reading.
This week i’m going to talk about a book that really is as good as it’s title makes it out to be.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock is a young adult short novel that follows Ruth, Dora, Alyce and Hank – four teens who are each struggling with the shifting state that their lives are in. Ruth only wants to be remembered by a Mother who forgot. Alyce is locking away her future to please her parents. Dora wishes she could hide forever from her abusive father and Hank and his brothers are running from a family home that doesn’t want them anymore. Set in the gritty and nostalgic backdrop of 1970s Alaska, this story is about hope, love, pain and family.
This book is completely different to anything I have ever read before. Hitchcock’s execution of the winding and well crafted plot is so seamless that the book simply drips with realism.
One of my favourite elements of the story is the effort Hitchcock puts into the culture and landscape of her characters. TSOOPHs touches lightly on the statehood that Alaska faced in the late 50s yet the feelings of resentment and strife are present all throughout. These emotions represent an ethos at the time felt by many who didn’t want to lose their traditional way of life. This issue along with others raised such as the discrimination Alaskan natives faced educated me immensely on topics I didn’t even know existed. It is a massive credit to Hitchcock’s talent that she is able to weave such an addictive and adventurous story that is also able to enlighten the reader all within under 300 pages.
The tone and general feel of the book possessed that intangible and rare quality that makes you feel nostalgic and reminiscent of another life despite never reading the story before. It was a genuine treat to experience such a rich cast of characters each with their own problems that were explored just the right amount through the alternating four chapter layout Hitchcock follows.
A final point that must be made, aside from the writers beautiful use of words, is her ability to see the bigger picture at all times and, as a result of that, amalgamate a tale that offers hidden easter eggs and those light bulb moment links that pull each of the character’s individual adventures together in a warming and intelligent way.
If would recommend The Smell Of Other People’s Houses highly and consider it as one of the best books I have read this year.
I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.
Keep on reading!
And thanks again Beth