The Smell of Other People's Houses Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-23 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 63 user ratings

"Guys, I finally read the Smelly Houses book! You were right; it’s brilliant. I’m pretty sure this is my new favorite book of 2018 (so far).

The structure reminds me of Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins, but this book is better in every way. It follows a group of teenagers in 1970s Alaska whose paths keep crossing. Ruth has gotten herself into serious trouble, and her secret will soon be revealed to the whole town. Dora finally has enough money to help her family out of poverty, but the money may cause more problems than it solves. Alyce is stuck on a fishing boat when she’d rather be auditioning for college dance programs. Hank and his brothers have escaped from their abusive parents and need a place to hide. This is a story about the impact that people can have on each other’s lives. Sometimes small gestures can mean a lot.

“Sometimes you can be inserted into another person's life just by witnessing something you were never really supposed to be a part of.” – The Smell of Other People’s Houses

This book is short (240 pages), but there’s a ton of stuff packed into it. How does the author do everything so well with so little space? It’s kind of unbelievable. The characters are well-developed and all have their own plotlines, the setting is vivid, the book is beautifully written. Just . . . how? What are your secrets, Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock?

If you’re a writer who wants to know how to develop setting, read this book. Alaska in the 1970s comes alive in this story. There’s a quote on the back cover from Eowyn Ivey that says “This book is Alaska,” and I fully believe that. There are beautiful descriptions of the landscape, but the setting goes deeper than that. The author shows the values and lifestyles of small-town people. She also shows the cultural differences between the white characters and the native characters. It all feels very authentic.

“Catholics are pretty good at keeping Jesus nailed to that cross, rather than focusing more on that happy bit where he rose from the dead and freed us from sin and evil.” – The Smell of Other People’s Houses

The characters are products of their environment, which makes them realistic. Even though they’re teenagers, they have to deal with the rampant poverty and alcoholism in their community. A few of the teens come from families who have been living off the land for generations. The kids are expected to grow up and live the same lifestyle as their parents, but what if they don’t want to? I love this book because rural families are such a big part of it. The setting is so important that this story wouldn’t exist if it was set anywhere else. I wish all books were like that. Setting is important, people!

The plot is a bit all over the place, but not in a bad way. It jumps around to focus on different characters, and each character is the hero of their own story. I didn’t find any of the plotlines boring. I flew through this book because I always wanted to know what happened next.

Speaking of the plot, I’m surprised at how not-depressing it is. These kids have to put up with some awful crap (that I’m not going to tell you about because spoilers). The story could have been a downer, but it’s not. It’s surprisingly hopeful.

“It suddenly dawns on me that there is a big difference between feeling tired and being weak.” – The Smell of Other People’s Houses

I only have one complaint about the book. There are a lot of characters, and I had a hard time remembering how they are related. It was annoying to keep flipping back to the character list at the beginning of the book. That’s a small complaint. The pros heavily outweigh the con in this case.

“We don't have to be blood to be family.” – The Smell of Other People’s Houses

If I didn’t make it obvious enough, I’m impressed with The Smell of Other People’s Houses. I will happily pick up whatever the author writes next.

TL;DR: Read this book.
" said.

" This book is officially my second favorite book ever! (The Outsiders will always remain the first.) I cannot even begin to explain how much I loved it. I wish I was better with words, because I have so many different emotions stirring within me right now due to this incredible book and I am not even sure how to explain them. The title alone makes me feel something.
I was roaming around Books a Million not sure what book I wanted. I just knew I didn't want to leave the store without a new baby. (Books are my babies..) I saw the cover of this book and I instantly fell in love, after that I read the title and fell even more in love, then I read the description and that is what finally got me. Alaska? YES! A story about teenagers growing up and struggling with different problems? YES! Since this book was hardcover I told my mother, "Well, I hope I enjoy it because it wasn't one of the cheaper ones." I most definitely enjoyed it. I want to read it again and again.
If you haven't picked up this book yet, please do. One of the characters in this book talks about how both big and little experiences can change you. Well, I believe books can too...and this one most certainly will.
" said.


Reseña completa:

El eje de la trama son los personajes, son el alma de la novela y por eso la autora ha sabido aprovechar bien las circunstancias y lo narra desde la perspectiva de todos ellos, para conocerlos mejor, meternos en su piel y poder apreciar cómo cada uno de ellos vive un mismo momento. No voy a desvelar muchos detalles porque es que es tan cortito en libro y tan especial que me da pena contaros algo de más y que no disfrutéis de la historia como se merece, que por algo ha sido galardonada con múltiples premios.
Pero os puedo decir que trata temas complicados, da mucha importancia a los lazos familiares y a la amistad, también nos habla de los primeros amores, de la responsabilidad, el perdón y la vida en general, de las cosas que realmente valen la pena.
" said.

"Não é todo mundo que consegue escrever um livro com várias perspectivas que eu me interesse em todos os personagens; mas eu AMEI como as histórias iam se conectando - achei as conexões lindas de ver.

Eu adorei a narrativa, como a história é contada de um jeito simples e que me lembrou o estilo do Benjamin A. Saenz e do Sherman Alexie. O cenário do Alaska - e envolve muitas menções a pescaria, caça etc -, ainda mais em um período em que estava sendo decidido se seria um estado dos EUA ou não, é muito, MUITO interessante. Sai completamente do contexto de escola estadounidense contemporânea que sempre encontro em YAs.

Foi um livro que me deixou feliz de ter lido e quero mais coisas da autora com certeza ❤️
" said.

"The first fifty or so pages were difficult for me as I tried to take in the multiple POV's but oh my goodness, was this story a beautiful, heartbreaking, and hope-filled story.

There seemed to be great rep for the Alaskan culture of both indigenous and non-natives alike. There was a focus on the hunting/fishing culture in the area as well and I felt they were all done really well. The book spans from 1958-1970 but aside from talk of Alaska becoming a US state it reads like a contemporary in most respects. Bonnie is a native Alaskan and you can tell in her writing that she has a deep love and understanding of the landscape of the people there.

This story follows a rich cast of characters but our POV's are of Ruth, Hank, Alyce, and Dora but the other characters that weave in and out of their lives are richly written and given a lot of respect as well. Gran, Selma, Dumpling, Lily, Sam, Jack, and the other adults in the story all play heavily into this tapestry that paints such a vivid picture for the reader.

Each POV threads into other POVs and at the end you see the larger picture and man is it well done. If it wasn't already pretty clear, I really loved this book.

This is a great read for anyone interested in native stories, chosen/found family stories, and hauntingly tragic and hopeful books. Go into it knowing as little as possible and let yourself get swept away.
" said.

" ugh! Right in the feels again x) " said.

"Well, I certainly feel like the odd one out in the midst of all these high ratings and glowing reviews. Technically, there was nothing wrong with this story. The characters are interesting and the writing is easy to read. I just didn't connect to the story whatsoever, nor did I really care about it. The only reason I finished it was because it was short.

I did love the Alaskan setting, which was really unique and provided me with loads of food descriptions. I also liked how there were four different points of view, four storylines, and yet they somehow all connected beautifully towards the end.

So I think it's me and not the book. If the book interests you, I do think you should give it a try.

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a copy
" said.

"“The Smell of Other People’s Houses” is an engaging and unique literary novel that is a joy for all of the senses.

What I loved most about the book is the descriptions of the sights, sounds, and obviously, the smells. They are so vivid that you feel as though you are standing in the characters’ places. Everyone knows that different houses have different smells, but the author made the smells match the personalities of those living in the houses. It’s difficult to explain, but you will see what I mean if you read the book.

There are four main characters, and the story is told from each point of view. It’s very interesting to read how they interpret one another (including the smells of the others’ homes) and how their stories weave together. I also need to say that this is a wonderfully diverse book! The author grew up in Alaska and you can tell she has an intimate knowledge of the various people who make up the land. There is nothing but love for the many cultures, while also not being afraid to point out some of the systemic issues present in the area.

“The Smell of Other People’s Houses” is a beautiful book meant for those who enjoy reading about the lives of others. It’s meant to be savored, not devoured, and therefore will probably be best suited for those not looking for a fast-paced plot. I can say that it is a story that will stick with me and most likely be read several more times.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
" said.

June 2018 New Book:

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