The Smell of Other People’s Houses

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 “And then a tear streaks down my friend’s dry, dusty cheek. It reminds me of the river that we should be skiffing up right now, gong to fish camp, where everything makes sense and smells of laughter and smoke and where Dumpling will stop being sad about some promise she made to Ruth, who she is barely friends with anyway.”

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Alaska not only sounds like a different way of life, it truly is. During the time when it merged with the United States to become part of America, the lives of four young people are intertwined in a small Alaskan fishing village. These young people are connected through the poor community they live in, the evolving changes of their community and the desires each person has deep down, fighting to break free. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock is a sweet story about so much more than these young people. With insight to the trauma of losing a young mother, an alcoholic parent, neighbors who become closer than family and a crazy old guy who dances on the corner, this book takes on a charm while exposing a very rarely mentioned time in history and how it affected those involved.

With vivid imagery to make you feel the cold, smell the fish and feel as if you are walking right alongside each person, the dynamic intertwined tales leave you hoping along with them, and wanting their story to break free of the book. The characters are so real you won’t believe it belongs in fiction, and artfully shows how cultures mingle and combine beautifully. The Smell of Other People’s Houses is a rare peek into genuine Alaskan life.

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