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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Blog Tour: The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Pages: 240
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
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. 
A far cry from my normal reading taste, The Smell of Other People's Houses isn't a book I would have ever picked up on my own. Thank goodness someone pushed it into my hands! This subtle historical is flawlessly written and sure to be a 2016 favorite for many readers.

I have to be honest...Historical novels are usually a huge reading turn-off for me. They always seem so unapproachable. The jacket copy often puts the time and setting - the history - at the forefront, and I find it hard to look past that to imagine what might hide within the books pages. That wasn't the case with this novel. 

Set about a decade after Alaska was granted statehood, Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's debut novel uses history and culture as a beautiful backdrop for the complex and emotional journey of four teenagers living in a time and place unlike an other. She weaves an intricate tapestry of story and setting, sucking readers into a tale that truly lives in the moment. 

And as I mentioned earlier, the writing is exquisite. The book is filled with lyrical lines that describe feelings that I never knew I could relate to until the words were laid out before me. For example... 
"It feels like my best friend has just skipped a pebble across the glassy surface of my soul." 
"I'll never understand how certain things that happen to us can climb under our skin and make us someone new."
Simultaneously parallel and intertwined, Ruth, Dora, Alyce and Hank's stories are about facing challenges and finding a way through, overcoming what seems impossible and coming out on the other side. I think what I loved most about The Smell of Other People's Houses is the entanglements, small and large, that happen in these characters lives just as they often happen in real life. Chapter by chapter, bits and pieces of knowledge, character memories, suspicions and events coalesce to reveal just how deeply entangled they are and how the seemingly tiny connections they make along the way lead them right to where they belong. 

This novel surprised me and took me outside my comfort zone in the most wonderful ways. I won't be the least bit surprised if at this time next year The Smell of Other People's Houses is an award-winning novel. It will be absolutely deserved. 

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