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The Smell of Other People's Houses

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  13,346 ratings  ·  2,651 reviews
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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Wendy Lamb Books
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Jessica Peterson I would let my 11 year old read this. It does cover some hard truths but I felt it was done in a classy way.

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  13,346 ratings  ·  2,651 reviews

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Elle (ellexamines)
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of aestheticy settings and character development
What do I even begin to say about this impactful, gorgeous book? My faith in humanity and my love for found family has been absolutely restored.

There's so much I loved about this book, I really don't know where to start.


The setting developed here is just as awesome. Yes, I'm a little biased, because I've been in love with the idea of Alaska since I was really little. But this book made me feel like I was there. I felt as if I were in that snowy, i
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
4.5 stars
When I went back to my own house, which held nothing but the faint scent of mold in secondhand furniture-also known as guilt and sin.

I totally requested and pushed this book on my friends because of that title alone.
Palm Springs commercial photography

How can you resist it? Then just look at that cover. It makes my inner cover whore just get all warm and fuzzy.

Then I read the blurb. Yes, I don't really read them all the time. I just pick the pretties.
This book is set in Alaska! I have this fascination with Alaska and
not going to lie, the only reason i picked this up was because the title randomly caught my eye. which is very unlike me (i usually prefer to look at other reviews and ratings before buying a book), but i decided to go on an impulsive whim. and after finishing this, i still think the title (and its significance) is the best part of the book.

this was a cute story and well written, but it felt like it was spread a little too thin. the main concept of the book is how lives can impact and intertwin
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it

I might switch this to 5 stars. What an impactful story, that was able to do so very much with so few pages. Truly so very beautiful and so very hopeful.

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Larry H
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars for this one.

First of all, how freaking cool is this title?

Dora dreams of the stability of a family, of being able to sleep at night without fear, of belonging and feeling wanted. She has never had those things with her own parents, but she gets them living with her best friend Dumpling and her family.

No matter how secure Dora feels, she knows it's just a matter of time before she has to return to her real life, to embarrassment and poverty and danger, because you can't outrun your fam
Charlotte May
This was absolutely lush 💖

“Even after your heart breaks into a million pieces...I am here to tell you - all around you the world will go on spinning. People might even say kind words to you and think you are listening, but mostly you won’t hear anything because you’re too busy collecting each of those tiny pieces of your heart - wrapping them up into a safe corner of yourself, so you can find them again later.”

This is a wonderful tale set in Alaska not long after it became an American state.
Kayla Dawn
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My god, this was beautiful.
Sep 18, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This sounds interesting. Might pick it up.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, usa
It was a cute read.
Something light.
Love books set in the 70s.
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
WOW. I do not know what I was expecting going into this, but I definitely did not expect this to become one of my favorite books of the year. Maybe even of all time?! This was so simple and sweet and beautifully crafted and I ended up SOBBING at the ending because it was just so damn lovely. I will definitely re-read this over and over again for the rest of my life. WOW.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
2 stars

Hate to be the Grinch for an author's debut, but once I got past that gorgeous snow globe-ish cover and title to die for, there just wasn't much here to sustain my interest. It's almost like Ms. Hitchcock (an Alaskan native) picked up a copy of John Green's Looking For Alaska, got mad because the book was set in Alabama, and thought "If they're looking for Alaska, by God I'm gonna show them the way!" It seems like she's got the early 1970s-era Alaska down pat (it's endorsed by fellow Ala
Kai Spellmeier
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, underrated
"Even after your heart breaks into a million pieces, I am here to tell you - all around you the world will still go on spinning. People might even say kind words to you and think you are listening, but mostly you won't hear anything because you're too busy collecting each of those tiny pieces of your heart - wrapping them up into a safe corner of yourself, so you can find them again later."

This book caught my eye right away. First of all because of the intriguing title, second of all because of
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"We don't have to be blood to be family."

Bonnie Sue-Hitchcock is literally the next John Green of YA literature. And, when I say the next John Green of YA literature, I mean that she has the potential to blow up... which is a little sad, because I wish I could just keep this book all to myself, and treasure it in my heart... but then again, this author deserves recognition. Her debut novel is just fantastic and eloquently displays her talent, as a writer.

(I'm actually not the biggest fan of Joh

This books been on my book shelf since around 2015 and I always aimed to read it.

So now I have!

It’s based around young people, and coping with circumstances that either are no fault of their own or been reaped wrongly upon them.

It’s not a huge book and I read this in one day. I wasn’t expecting such exquisite writing and the area being around Alaska so that was an experience for me as I knew nothing much about that area at all.

The characters stood out so well, individually and collectively
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I was going to be real funny and say something along the lines of “why didn’t anyone ever tell me I should read this book,” but then I remembered the last time I did that about a book Shelby had told me about ages before I ever got around to reading it . . . .

You know the old saying: “Shoe me once, shame on you. Shoe me twice, I got your shoes.”

I’m pretty sure I got the ARC of this book 3 ½ years ago. Now if that doesn’t show a co

4-1/2 stars, rounded up.
"Did you save him?"
"I tried. Maybe he saved me?"
"Yeah, that's what we do, isn't it? We save each other."
This exchange sums up this short but beautifully moving book, which tells the intertwining stories of four teens in Alaska in 1970, all of whom have reasons to fantasize about other people's homes. Ruth and her sister live with their chilly, upright, very Catholic grandmother; Dora's mother is an alcoholic and her father sexually abuses her; Alyce feels obligated t
'. . . houses with moms in them do tend to smell better.'

I am totally taken with the title of this book. It reminds me of the redolence of potpourri and furniture polish that lingered in the air at my in-law's house back when they were still living. More recently, it calls to mind how the house of my parents has taken on the smell of old people during the past several years. I wonder what my house smells like to other people.

This is story of teenagers trying to find their way in life, learning h
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, ya, net-galley, 2016
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life

I really enjoyed reading this short little book. This book first grabbed my attention with its title. I loved the title and the purple cover is just beautiful. The story inside the cover was equally wonderful. I haven't read a lot of books set in Alaska so the setting was a big draw for me. This was one of those books that I didn't want to put down and I read most of it within a day.

This book is told from multiple points of view. I really enj
Irena BookDustMagic
What you need to know about this book:

- The Smell of Other People's Houses is a novel that came into existence from four different short stories.
- It follows four different perspectives, all written in first person, all points of view are teenager's.
- This book takes place in Alaska in 1970.
- Four characters of this book are telling us different stories, but they are all intertwined at some point.
- Even thugh this is a novel, you can read this book in two different ways:
1. From first page to la
Neil (or bleed)
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, reviewed
"We don't have to be blood to be family."

What an interesting, quite funny and weird title we've got here, right? I mean, that title alone made me read this heartfelt, coming-of-age novel which is set in Alaska during its early statehood. And add that breath-taking cover. I, absolutely, can't say no.


Frankly speaking, I almost gave up reading this novel and save it for another day but I'm happy I didn't. The Smell of Other People's Houses might not work its magic immediately upon reading it bu
2.5 stars
Claude's Bookzone
Jun 15, 2021 marked it as dnf
DNF at unknown %

I restarted this book 5 times and still can't remember any of the characters names. Time to shuffle on outta here I reckon.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2 stars.

My expectations for this book was high but it didn't deliver on any of what I was expecting. Which is really disappointing because I liked the premise of it and the title. I mean, The Smell of Other People's Houses, that's an interesting title.

Unfortunately, a pretty cover and interesting title didn't help in regards to the plot and characters.

The book takes place in America's last frontier, Alaska, in 1970. We follow four teenagers as they try to navigate through life. Ruth is trying
Rashika (is tired)
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 actuall
Jan 02, 2021 marked it as to-read
Not me looking for every book out there set in Alaska after reading The Great Alone ...more
Cortney LaScola Hornyak -  The Bookworm Myrtle Beach
3.5 stars rounded down to 3 because I liked it more than I loved it

The Smell of Other People's Houses has been on my "want to read" list since I first read the description 2 years ago.

I absolutely love how all the characters' stories intersected, but overall it was just pretty good, not great for me. I definitely could have used more background, more descriptions, more everything about each one of the story lines... what happened to Ruth's boyfriend? Why did the boys runaway? What caused the big
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I cannot put into words my feelings about this book. It is so beautifully written. Please read it. Please please read it.
Julie Zantopoulos
The first fifty or so pages were difficult for me as I tried to take in the multiple POV's but oh my goodness, was this story a beautiful, heartbreaking, and hope-filled story.

There seemed to be great rep for the Alaskan culture of both indigenous and non-natives alike. There was a focus on the hunting/fishing culture in the area as well and I felt they were all done really well. The book spans from 1958-1970 but aside from talk of Alaska becoming a US state it reads like a contemporary in most
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
What an intriguing book with interesting characters and backstories. I actually found this little book to be an entertaining short read. I find books that take place in Alaska interesting because of the building of the surroundings and lifestyle of that location. This was a really entertaining few hours.

My quick and simple overall: interesting but the characters and their backstories make it more incredible.
Lisa Wolf
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, 1970s, alaska
This novel, told through interlocking stories of young lives in 1970s Alaska, is beautifully written. It's gritty and sharp, with an emotional power and a unique worldview. The setting adds urgency and a taste of wildness to the experiences of the characters. It's a short but compelling read, and shouldn't be missed. ...more
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Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock was born and raised in Alaska. She worked many years fishing commercially with her family and as a reporter for Alaska Public Radio stations around the state. She was also the host and producer of “Independent Native News,” a daily newscast produced in Fairbanks, focusing on Alaska Natives, American Indians, and Canada’s First Nations. Her writing is inspired by her family’s f ...more

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