Source: ARC received for review from GPL
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In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. This deeply moving and authentic debut is for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and Benjamin Alire Saenz. Intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America’s Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare talent.
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. This unforgettable book is about people who try to save each other—and how sometimes, when they least expect it, they succeed.
Reasons why I read the book: Title + cover + setting + time period.
Reasons why I loved the book: Feels + characters + great relationships + diversity
The Smell of Other People’s Houses is actually not about some weird person that goes around sniffing other people's houses. It is a profound book about families, relationships and the interconnectedness of a community.
I don’t usually like multiple point of views and while I think some of the transitions between them could have been neater, I actually liked all of the characters and enjoyed being inside their minds. The characters don’t have much in common besides the community they are part of/will become a part of and don’t even really hang out with each other, but the way their stories interwine is amazing.
This may seem like a feel-good book but it really isn’t. It’s heartbreaking. 3 out of 4 of the main characters come from heartbreaking backgrounds and their journey to finding a place within this community isn’t easy.
Ruth has to deal with teen pregnancy and this constant feeling of not being loved. Dora is trying to escape from her awful home and although she has found a new, loving family, she cannot embrace them because she still thinks it’s too good to be true. Hank runs away from home with his brothers to give them a new beginning, but he loses one of his brothers. Alyce on the other hand is just trying to find a place in her own family. Her parents got divorced and summer is the only time she gets to see her father so she is torn between wanting to stay with him and following her dreams.
Things do wrap up a little too easily at the end of the book but it did not keep me from enjoying the nice warmness this book brings about when these characters find their place and begin to understand the world in a way they hadn’t before.
I would recommend this book to everyone that wants to cuddle up with a book on a cold winter night that will warm them up as much as any cup of hot cocoa.