How are we all this week?
I am SO HAPPY because I feel as though I am finally making my way out of my reading slump and that is 100% due to the great books I have read lately. I HATE being in a book slump (as I’m sure we all do) because I honestly love reading and its one of the only things I do during my down time, so I am so glad I am crawling out of this hole.
SO! The following review is for a book that has been out for quite a while, but I picked it up on a whim from the library and oh my I’m glad I did.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Date of publication: April 7th 2016
Author: Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Page count: 254 pages
Genre: Historical fiction, Contemporary
Trigger warnings: Alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, death of a family member, neglect.
Synopsis (taken from Goodreads):
There’s one smell that totally catches me off guard. It’s the smell of worlds colliding.
Ruth wants to be remembered.
Dora wishes she was invisible.
Alyce can’t bring herself to leave.
Hank is running away.
Four very different lives are about to become entangled.
This intertwining of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America’s Last Frontier introduces a writer of rare and wonderful talent.
So I went into this book pretty blind, It was one of those picks from the library that you just lift because you know you have heard of it or you recognise the cover, and to be honest the cover of this book is just beautiful, I think its one of my favourites of all time.
This book is a multi-perspective story focusing on the lives of (mainly) 4 young characters who are experiencing isolation, fear, loneliness, loss and tragedy. However throughout their journey there is also strong underlying elements of love, family, friendship and sheer raw humanity.
The main surface level selling point for this book is the fact that it is set in Alaska, which is a setting I don’t think I have ever read during my adult reading life, but
LET. ME. TELL. YOU.
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock took me to Alaska, I swear through the beautiful and lyrical writing I was transported to The Last Frontier and I felt the isolation and the loneliness of it, but I also felt the fierce loyalty of that close knit community we grew to know by the end of the book. Bonnie also didn’t create her version of Alaska to fit this story line which I though was great, you could tell it was a cold, dangerous and misunderstood place. There was a direct mention of the political situation current being experienced by the native Alaskan’s at that time which just made the book that more real.
AND THE CHARACTERS!
These were 4 of the most beautifully flawed human characters I have ever read and they were all under the age of 20, it was incredible. Don’t get me wrong Bonnie didn’t write these characters as though they were wiser beyond their years, they were just real, raw people who experienced love, lust, heartbreak, anger and friendship. I really don’t want to spoil this book for anyone so I am not going to go into details of each of the characters story line (soz), but one of the things that made me ADORE this book was the process of getting to know each individual voice. It was just beautiful.
To sum up, this is a book about 4 individual, separate lives that end up coming together in the most natural, yet harrowing way. Each story led into each other perfectly without being too convenient and I loved it. Below is my immediate thoughts I wrote on goodreads immediately after I finished it:
“That may honestly have been the most beautiful piece of fiction I have ever read.
The writing style was so lyrical and immersive. The characters were all flawed but in the most natural way and the underlying message of hope was resonated through every word.
Beautiful, just beautiful.”
I highly recommend this book if you haven’t picked it up, I cannot rave about it enough!
Happy reading guys,
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