The Smell of Other People's Houses
Set in Alaska in the 1970s, The Smell of Other People’s Houses is a excellent debut YA novelabout growing up in small towns, about looking out at the world and comparing your own life with the lives of others, about seeking answers where often there are only questions. The premise that other people’s homes smell certain ways, and what this indicates in terms of lifestyle, social structure and family histories, is a wonderful premise and a successful way in which to hang together the lives of this community. Following the lives of four young people - Ruth, who wants to be remembered; Dora, who doesn’t want to be noticed; Alyce, who wants to please everyone; and Hank, who needs to run away - each story is touching and real. You’ll find yourself rooting for them all, that their lives will be what they wish. This isn’t a sentimental novel though, there are tough issues and hard decisions for all the teens to make. Their lives are often difficult as they deal with absent parents, family secrets, tragedy, teen pregnancy, abuse, first love, and the twists and turns of friendship and family. All the characters have decisions to make as they move from being children to adults, as they realise that life isn’t black and white. But this isn’t melodramatic writing. Hitchcock embraces her characters and tells their honest and sometimes gritty stories with lightness, humour and integrity. Cleverly plotted, the lives of the community intersect as the four main characters become entangled, as secrets are revealed. Ultimately this is a novel about what you leave behind, what holds you together and how lives can be redeemed.
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.
Love, tragedy, luck and salvation in the interweaving stories of four teenagers in this extraordinary 1970s Alaskan set debut novel.
Born and raised in Alaska and a longtime journalist for Alaska Public Radio, Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock spent ten years fishing commercially and raised her children on a boat in Southeast Alaska - bringing a rare authenticity to her writing about America's last frontier. She now lives in Lyons, Colorado, where she's slowly rebuilding her house after the catastrophic floods of September 2013. THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES is her first novel.