The Smell of Other People's Houses Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-11-06 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 63 user ratings

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

"Diverse, descriptive and beautiful.
I dont know how to explain this book, it was so simple, yet so intricate and i really enjoyed it.

One thing I didn't like about it is that it was slow but that was because it was sort of the simple story it had depth and extra craziness in it but overall it was semi slow. I also wasn't fan of all of the perspectives I like certain peoples perspective more than others but that's typical for me.

Otherwise it was a very good book.

"You wait until your whole world falls out from under you"
" 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.

"I fell in love with this book the moment I saw that cover for the first time last year. JUST LOOK AT IT! IT IS LIKE A PIECE OF ART! I bumped into the UK cover while looking for the purchase links for this one, and though that one is cute, I WOULD REFUSE TO BUY A PHYSICAL COPY OF THIS BOOK WITH ANY OTHER COVER THAN THE BEAUTY PICTURED HERE!

I can assure that this book is so much more than a beautiful cover though. This one was one of those books that I had a VERY DIFFICULT time putting down once I started it. The story sucked me right in, and I continually marveled in the way Hitchcock was able to intertwine the stories of her multiple narrators together.

The Smell of Other People's Houses is narrated via four alternating point of views. At the beginning, we are introduced to Ruth, who has been living with her grandmother and little sister ever since her father died and her mother checked out. Living with her strict, opinionated grandmother is not easy, and Ruth continually questions whether things will ever get better. Dora wants nothing more than escape from her home and the care of her parents, who fight and spend their days in the local bar, drinking all the little they have. Alyce dreams about a future as a professional dancer, but feels like she cannot escape the responsibilities that come with her family's fishing business. And finally, Hank and his two younger brothers don't see a future in their current home, and decide to escape, but things don't go quite as planned. As these characters try to make their lives better, their roads intertwine in interesting and touching ways.

The setting for this novel, Alaska (and Canada) in 1970s is something I have never come across before and now that I have read something set in such setting, I WANT MORE! Due to the fact that Alaska was proclaimed as a state as late as 1959, the majority of the characters in this novel have known two lives - the life before Alaska was a US state and a life after that. What I didn't know when going into this book was the fact that part of the characters are Alaskan Natives/First Nations people, which also creates an interesting differences between them which definitely adds a whole new level of awesomeness to this story.

Considering the socio-political setting of the book is also interesting, and though it is not very extensively included into this book, if you have some basic knowledge of US history, you can probably connect some events from the past to this time period. Richard Nixon was US president at the time (Ruth's friend's parents are described as Conservatives and they have a portrait of Nixon in their beautiful, pine-smelling home), The Cold War was in full force, and US was fighting a war in Vietnam. Watergate was still in a future, so in some sense, 1970 could still be seen as an "innocent" time, at least when it came to trusting the government. As mentioned, politics are not really a part of this book, so don't be worried if political narratives usually don't float your boat. For me though, while I was reading this book, it was interesting to think about what was going on in US during the time period used as a setting for this book.

While the book is narrated by four characters, there is a whole set of supporting characters that all play some kind of role in what happens. At the beginning of a book, there's a list of all the characters, and I must admit that when I saw that, I was afraid that I would get confused with such a large cast. As I started reading though, I realized that all of the characters have their own place, and it was not difficult to keep tabs on who's who.

I am one of those people who loves YA novels that have parents that actually play some sort of role in the narrative, other than being either like "cool best friends" or never there, and I must say I was EXTREMELY HAPPY when I realized how many different kind of relationships between adults and teenagers Hitchcock has been able to include into this wonder of a book. There's the relationship between Ruth and her grandmother, one between Alyce and her father, and then there's a relationship between Dora and a family (particularly the father of that family) that takes her in when she feels like she cannot live home anymore.

There is nothing negative I can really say about this book, except maybe that I wished it would have been longer, because I could have spend so much more time with these wonderful, extremely well-developed characters. Hitchcock's writing is extremely beautiful, the love she puts into creating the setting blew me away, and emotions I felt while reading this book felt so real and raw and honest. The moment I finished with this one, I had tears falling down from my eyes and I just felt happy and serene. The Smell of Other People's Houses gave me the best kind of reading experience a reader can ask for!
" said.

" Such a beautiful tale of friendship and family and, what it is like to live in Alaska. This is one of those magical short stories that leave you wanting for more. It made me feel really emotional and the story felt really real too. I almost forgot that it is a work of fiction! " 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 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.

"What you need to know about this book:

- The Smell of Other People's Houses is a novel that came into existence from four different short stories.
- It follows four different perspectives, all written in first person, all points of view are teenager's.
- This book takes place in Alaska in 1970.
- Four characters of this book are telling us different stories, but they are all intertwined at some point.
- Even thugh this is a novel, you can read this book in two different ways:
1. From first page to last, like every other novel;
2. You can read only a certain POV and you will still have the complete story about the character who's POV you're reading.

- I think Ruth's story was the most interesting one, but Alyce's story was the most enjoyable to read.

What you should be warned about:

- There is some strong violence described in this book.
- Not every POV is an interesting one (at least I found Hank's story to be dull).
- This is a literally fiction that follows four teenagers, and it does not follow the pace most ya novels have.

What I liked about this book:

- Writing style is great and poetic.
- This book covers some serious topics in a realistic way and the writer did a great job describing those situations (violence, teen pregnancy, suicide attempt).
- The cover is so pretty and the title is also beautiful.
- The writer presented us a story she wanted to tell in a bit more then 200 pages and didn't write about unnecessary situations just to make her piece longer.

What I'd like to change in this piece of work:

- Even though I knew this book was taking place in Alaska, I didn't have a strong feeling I was reading about Alaska so I guess I'd like it if it was described in a stronger way.

Overall, this was a quick read and different from books that I usually read.
Even though I wasn't fully satisfied with it I think many people will enjoy reading this book.

I would still recommend it to readers who'd like to read something that is taking place somewhere different then most books do and to readers of ya who'd like to start reading something out of their comfort zone, since this is a (historical) literally fiction that follows teenagers.

Note: I got this book for free via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review. Thank you Faber and Faber Ltd.

Read this and more reviews on my blog:
" said.

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