The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Thank you to NetGalley and Faber & Faber UK for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses is a book set in Alaska/Yukon Country/all up in that snowy area of North America in the 1970s after Alaska became a state. The narrative follows 4 different kid’s lives as they struggle through some pretty tough times and their stories become entwined with each other.

Personally I wasn’t very sure of this book when I started reading it, the style of writing didn’t really gel with me. It opens with these really graphic depictions of dead elk/deer which for someone like me who is trying to eat less and less meat every day was just really sickening and nearly put me off reading it.

It’s split into 4 different people’s narratives: Ruth, who becomes pregnant, Dora, who lives with another family due to her abusive father, Alyce who is hiding that she has an audition for a dance school from her dad, and Hank who runs away from home and loses his brother. I personally found Alyce’s story the most interesting and enjoyable to read, then Hank then Ruth then Dora. Dora really annoyed me, I found her really whiney and I guess ungrateful to Dumpling’s family for taking her in.

I appreciated that this book featured Native people to the area and really hard issues for teenagers, especially in the 70s when things weren’t really talked about like they are now when it comes to problems in the home.

I found the relationships between a lot of the characters really awkward and stilted and I think this was part of the reason I didn’t gel with it. It was also hard for me to understand what was really going on.

Overall this was an interesting read but not really for me, but if it’s something that would interest you you should read it.

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