Review: The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Monday, February 22, 2016

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Publication Date: February 23rd, 2016
Rating: 3 Stars
Pages: 240

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

I received this ARC as kind of a bonus when I requested The Word For Yes from Emma @ Miss Print! I think it has a rather interesting title and that cover is kind of insane! That sky is so pretty!

This book follows four different teenagers in Alaska in 1970.

Ruth has lived with her Gran since she was 5, her father died right before her sister was born and it really messes up her mom. So Ruth and her new baby sister, Lily go to live with their Gran. They aren't terribly well off and their Gran seems almost bitter that she's stuck with them and seems to find any reason she can to punish them.

Dora is living with the family of one of her friends because her family isn't... really... a good family. She is probably the only character in this book that I really didn't like. She just struck me as jealous and kind of stuck up despite being in a situation where most people would probably actually be looking down on her. I guess I can see where some of her feelings might be coming from, but I still didn't like her.

Hank is running away from home with his two brothers. They are leaving behind their mom and her awful new boyfriend. They stow away on a ferry, looking to get anywhere but where they were when something bad happens and two of them have to go on without the other.

Alyce is a talented ballerina. She needs to audition the summer before her senior year of high school if she wants to be able to get a scholarship and go to school for dance. But every summer she has to go out on the fishing boat with her dad and uncle and help them out and she doesn't want to let them down so she keeps her audition to herself and does what she feels is her duty to her father.

It took me awhile to really get into this book. It's probably not something that I would usually read, but I ended up liking it okay. I feel like it's hard to talk about the characters in this book because the book is so short and each character only gets a couple of chapters so if I were to say much, I'd definitely give something away. I want to say that not a lot really happens in this book, but that is really not true. I guess maybe everything just happens so subtly or naturally, that it just kinda nicely flows in the book. I don't know.

I found the main characters (except Dora) and pretty much all of the secondary characters to be fairly interesting characters. Even Ruth's relatively unpleasant Gran grew on me. I think it's really interesting how all of these characters end up coming together. And how on the journey, a character will conveniently meet someone pivotal to the story. I liked to see how all these new characters fit in. I think the story was overall maybe a bit predictable, but not too bad. There are little bits of romance in this book, but nothing major at all.

Overall, I found this book to be fairly enjoyable. I didn't think I was going to like it at first, but it ended up surprising me. I don't really think I've read anything that I can compare this to, but if you're interested in learning about Alaska right around the time it gained statehood, fishing communities, Alaskan natives, any of those kinds of things, this book might be for you.


  1. I'm glad to see that this one was pretty enjoyable. It sucks that it was a bit hard to get into at first. I hate it when books are like that.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

    1. So do I! But I'm glad that I got into it! It was really different than anything I would normally read! And the cover is so pretty!

  2. Oh I'm glad this one was a fun read for the most part. I grabbed another ARC for myself at my place of employ and am thinking about diving into it soon(ish).

    1. It was really different! I'm glad that I ended up liking it more than I thought I would! I hope you enjoy it as well! Can't wait to see your review!


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