C.G. Drews's Reviews > The Smell of Other People's Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-star, contemporary, historical-fiction, read-2016, young-adult, foodie-fiction

Ahhh I loved this! I truly utterly adored it!! I think it was the sniffing...I mean, LOOK AT THAT TITLE. LOOK AT THAT COVER. I was pretty much doomed to love these sniffy characters. My only sadness is that it's so short because I want mooooooore. Eternally more. (And this is the author's debut?! Consider me sold FOREVER.)


The writing is just AMAZING. It's super visual and...sniffy. I could honestly taste and smell and see everything. And do you know how hard that is to write?! REALLY HARD. But this book kind of swallowed me. Although, just in case you were worried, the characters don't go about actively sniffing things. The whole "smell of other people's houses" kind of also reflects on the conglomeration of families the book is about and how different they are. And it sort of ties smells to feelings and afjdsaldk it's altogether lyrical and beautiful.


Also it has 4 narrators...but they're all so incredibly different and interesting. Usually? I hate multiple narrators. Especially in 1st person because it gets soooo confusing fast. BUT NOT HERE. THIS WAS DONE PERFECTLY. All of the characters are unique and different and interesting and complex. Like I'm in love with the sheer fact they were so complex. I JUST WISH THERE HAD BEEN MORE ON THEM. BECAUSE I LOVE THEM SO.

Basically we have Ruth: who lives with her gran who kind of hates her for being a teen pregnancy case. Then there's Dora: who is actually not an explorer, (sooorry I couldn't resist) and comes from a super abusive family which is SO SAD and she's such a scared but angry kid I LOVED HER. Also Alyce: who is a ballerina! But also a fisherman! So a ballerfisherina? (That works, don't deny it.) And she wants to dance, but also please her dad, sooooo. #awkward And lastly there's Hank: Who has run away with his two little brothers from his sucky home life and THEY ARE ALL ADORABLE AND MILDLY TRAGIC.

Their respective smells (according to yours fabulous truly that is) are:
Ruth: tinned food and loneliness
Dora: Whisky and fear contrasting with pie and woodsmoke
Alyce: Fish guts and salt and family
Hank: Staleness and crumpled old clothes and caring

Did I mention how BEAUTIFUL and VISUAL the writing was yet?! Because i'm totally cool to keep yelling about it because THAT'S HOW MUCH I LOVED IT.

The story is also set in Alaska!! In the 1970s! Do you know how much I know about Alaska? LIKE 3%. I attribute my small suitcase of knowledge to once upon a time, when I was a small human, I read The Year of Miss Agnes WHICH WAS AWESOME. And also there was this book my mum read out loud that I think was set in Alaska? The Blue Bear or something? It was about guys who GOT EATEN BY A FRIKKIN' BEAR. (Thanks for that childhood trauma, Mum. <3) Ahem...but regardless I loved learning more about life in Alaska. And from the author's note, I gather she grew up in Alaska and a lot of the stories are a conglomeration of things she experienced or people she knew (!!!!) Regardless it all felt very REAL...like I was totally THERE. Such an awesome feeling.

Also there was delicious food. I'm a sucker for books that take the time to make me hungry. Wait. No. This is bad. CURSE THEM. But actually love them. <333 There was blueberry pie which particularly hurt. I'm not so keen on all the FISH though. I hate fish. I would die in Alaska.

I also adored how all the stories interlocked! I mean, there are 4 storylines here...but the way they meshed was pure magic.

• I also just generally LOVED it. you know when you read a book and you feel like, for no reason you can explain, that you are just altogether ENJOYING the delicious words before you? Me. Right now.

...I basically have NO NEGATIVES!! Obviously! Since it's 5-stars. Although I will hesitantly say that I wish it had been a bit longer. I think it really captivated the heart of the protagonists' journeys, and I didn't feel cheated. Nope! But I feel like Alyce's story, in particular, wasn't deep enough. And Hank's backstory was a little unclear. And I also had a lot of trouble remember who-was-what-nationality. I thiiiink some of them are native Alaskan, others Indian, maybe some are white??? I honestly don't know which-is-for-which though. SORRY. #confused

BASICALLY THIS IS A NEW FAVOURITE STORY OF MINE. It made me feel warm and comfortable (basically a PERFECT wintery read!!) and the characters were all so precious and wonderful and I LOVED THEM ALL. I also highly enjoyed sniffing all the things. (FYI I have a very good sniffing sense myself so noticing what people's houses smell like is already something I take note on. I RELATE! I'M SO WEIRD!) And basically it just exceeded my expectations and I AM A PLEASED FISH. *

* Except for that mild fact that I hate fish. But I love this book. But shhhhh, the metaphor-thingy still does work. BECAUSE ALASKA = FISH.

(...yeah okay I'll be quiet now.)
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Reading Progress

May 13, 2016 – Started Reading
May 13, 2016 – Shelved
May 14, 2016 –
page 99
41.25% "This is so beautifully written I COULD EAT IT.\n (Logical reaction, obviously.)"
May 14, 2016 – Shelved as: 5-star
May 14, 2016 – Shelved as: contemporary
May 14, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
May 14, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016
May 14, 2016 – Shelved as: young-adult
May 14, 2016 – Finished Reading
July 28, 2016 – Shelved as: foodie-fiction

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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message 1: by Jess (new) - added it

Jess I've been wanting to read this, and now you've basically convinced me to bump it up my TBR list c:

C.G. Drews YESSSSS. My job here is done. :')

message 3: by mali (new) - added it

mali omg u have great skills on convincing me into reading books u loved, i cant cait my tbr is bigger now because of u, curse u evil overlord (naw i'm joking i love u<3) anyways THIS BOOKS SOUNDS SO GOOD NOW!!! and i like the title as well and gah i notice the smells of peoples houses and its kinda weird but oh well!

message 4: by Mareli (new) - added it

Mareli Thalwitzer Sounds gorgeous! Will list it right now. If you like books that leaves you hungry (for food, actual put in your mouth and chew), try 'Recipes for Love and Murder' by Sally Andrew. It's rather a cosy mystery, but quite entertaining. And the food in there is delicious!!

C.G. Drews @Xayuru: MWHAHAHAAH. Ahem. I mean, I'm so terribly sorry for being so convincing. ;) BUT AHHH IT'S SO GOOD HONESTLY!!!

@Mareli: Omg I am looking that up immediately. THANKYOU.

@Birchsilver: Ewwwww. I have tried ALL fish and I DO NOT LIKE IT. XD

Openly Bookish I almost picked that one up today.

message 7: by Grahame (new)

Grahame Ever since I saw the title of this book I thought it sounded good. Glad you liked it! Fantastic review!!! :)

Mandy I love you review. I also thought this was a beautiful book.

Emily Mead See this is the reaction I WANTED to have from reading this book. *sobs* *curses subjectivity*

message 10: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Emily: *pats shoulder* There there. I highly agree with your review that it was too short though!!

Sandy Lowe I loved it as well. Resounding 5 stars!

message 12: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Sandy: Yayyyyy!!

Annie-JoElizabeth on the I-really-really-really-want-to-read-this list!

Andrea Most excellent review!

message 15: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Andrea: Thankyou!

Megan I felt the same way about the writing and characters! And for a debut? This author is a genius!

message 17: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Megan: Agreed!! I can't wait to read more of her books!

Hannah ◇Reader in the Rough◇ Annnnd adding to my to-read list now. Great review :)

message 19: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle (Fitkittymama Reads) You're the 3rd person I've seen recommend this one, so I had to add it to my list!

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

hm. now i have to read it.

message 21: by Zaynah (new)

Zaynah Abbas Now you've got the Dora the Explorer theme song stuck in my head. Thanks sooo much.

message 22: by C.R. (new) - added it

C.R. Fladmark It's like you don't give people the option to not read it with that kind of review. **marks as to-read

Dariana Espinal Am I the only one that got irritated during most of the Dora chapters?

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