Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Smell Of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

I wanted to take a moment from posting about the books I read during my time away to present to you this new first-time novel. I was perusing Netgalley and telling myself to stop requesting and/or grabbing books I won't be able to read in a timely fashion. And...Alas! I found this gorgeous cover. (Isn't is so sparkly and pretty? I want to be in that cabin.) It was a 'Read Now' book. So I took the hint and read it NOW.

The Smell Of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Published: February 23rd, 2015
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Page Count: 240 (Kindle)
Genre: Young Adult
Find the Author: Website (social media links located there)

"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."- Nabbed from the Goodreads Blurb. 

I was drawn in from the first chapter. This is always, usually a good sign when commencing in reading a book. It's was definitely a good sign in this case. 

It wasn't the character or the story premise that caught my attention in the first chapter. It was the writing. I'm big on imagery - I like to have a clear image of the world I'm reading. I want a montage floating around in my brain of scenes and stories. An example of this (a excerpt that I remember) without a spoiler is...

"Rusty metal oil drums, blue plastic coolers, and whole cans of peaches and fruit cocktail from people's pantries bobbed down Second Avenue. Someone's red frilly slip got hung up in Mr. Peterson's climbing peas and made Lily laugh out loud until Gran shushed her. Gran's face was as red as an overripe raspberry. Even in a flood, underwear was no joking matter."

It's written in first person and bounces from one perspective to the next with each chapter. There are a lot of characters. Mostly because we're dealing with the lives of four young individuals who all seemed connected to each other. There's a handy little chart located in the front of the book to help you sort through the diverse cast. 

Characters are diverse and interesting. Events are a shared experience. Their lives connect in the oddest ways but it all makes sense. Each character has a unique background, a history of their own. But everyone is either connected to one another in the past or in the future.

Alaska in the 70's turned out to be a relatable and surprising setting. Things like the issue of statehood, poverty, religion, and traditions wove together. I never really thought about the Alaskan Statehood. I didn't even know when it happened. (1959, in case you were wondering). It is this issue that leads to the events that create the foundation of Ruth and other character's lives. Not the entire foundation - but a good corner piece just the same. I thought it was subtly enlightening on something that I had previously never thought about. Yet, the characters are just young adults figuring out their lives and dealing with relationships with their families and each other and where they come from. It's this relating that makes the setting less foreign and more familiar for the audience.

Ruth really stuck with me. Out of all the stories told, she was the one that began it and she was the one that closed it. She (and her origins) was the thread that stitched it all together.

The only things that distracted me from a five star enjoyment was the number of characters and the rotating voices. Like I mentioned before (up there ^^) it was written in rotating first narration. and each voice sounded like each other. The tone and word choices were the same. That and the amount of characters was a teensy bit confusing. If I stopped in the middle of a chapter to refill my coffee or answer the phone I would often have to go to the start of the chapter and double check what character I was listening to. It is, however, not enough of an issue to deter me from recommending this book. The voices might be the same but the writing itself delivered.

It's a first novel with a fresh setting and reflective perspective that you won't find elsewhere. I genuinely hope to read more from the author. Four out of five stars and a recommendation that you read it during a quiet weekend at home. are going to want to keep any and all empty alcoholic beverage bottles to fill with wild flowers after reading it. I don't even drink and I want to keep the next whiskey bottle that comes my way to fill with flowers. I'm just going to have to settle with a favorite coffee mug. Or possibly a left over Starbucks cup.

Until next time,


1 comment

  1. I sadly requested a ton of books and never could finish them. :( That was an option, but I didn't read it. Too bad, it sounds amazing!


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