The Smell of Other People's Houses: ARC Review

Publication Date: February 23rd, 2016
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Series: None
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Source: Publisher

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.

Thank you to Wendy Lamb Books for sending me a copy to read in exchange for an honest review. 

Before I received this book I had not heard anything about it. The gorgeous cover immediately got my attention and once I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read it. Although not a perfect book, it was still worth a read. 

The four characters all come from different backgrounds, but they all have relatively sad stories. Dora and Ruth's stories were the worst out of all of them, and I found myself more interested in theirs than the other two. The four POVs were hard to follow at first because they switched rather quickly, but once the story progressed it was easy to figure out who was who. Their voices were also very similar, which might confuse some readers. 

One thing that I did not care for was the pacing. At the beginning it was nice and leisurely, but towards chapter 14 it took off very quickly. The transition could have been smoother. 

Bonnie's writing was done in a way that was informative without being an information overload. She references Alaska's unwilling path to statehood which caused a tragedy in the life of one of the teens, and she also highlights the racial divide between natives and non-natives. It was interesting to read about fishing camps that were passed down from families. Having not read much from this time period and location, it was certainly educational. 

The plot was simple enough. Four teenagers facing different circumstances find that their lives meet in interesting ways that nobody could expect. The fact that they all met at the end was a little far fetched, but as readers we are taught to suspend our disbelief when reading. It might have been able to work considering the time period and small geographical location. Regardless, I think it wrapped up a little too nicely for my taste. This book could have benefitted from an extra 50-100 pages. 

The Smell of Other People's Houses was a wonderful read about what really goes on behind closed doors, and how people deal with those issues. It will definitely leave an impression on you. 

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