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Peony, St Helen and St Katharine

The Smell of Other People's Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses is about four different people who are Ruth, who lives with her depressing Gran and chatty little sister, Alyce who desperately wants to go to ballet school instead of going fishing, Hank who is running away with his brothers and, Dora, who wants a family of her very own. They are all on a journey to understand who they are, what they want and how to get away from things they wish hadn't happened. The story leads the reader on a journey of these four teenagers lives and how they all meet each other.
I thought that the plot was really good and interesting, the setting, which is in Alaska, was described really well and I could really get the feel of the country and different places the book leads the reader into, despite the fact that I don't live there and have never been! Unfortunately though, the story felt very rushed at the end, and I found myself getting quite confused over who was who and what was what. I think the book had potential to be much better if the author had spent more time on the ending and had really thought it through. I also really wanted to know what happened to Ruth's mother, yet the book never seemed to explain if Ruth ever met her again.
The characters were easy to imagine and that the author portrayed their personalities really well so the reader could understand them. However, I got the feeling that the author enjoyed writing about certain characters more than others and found it easier to write about them, which I thought showed in her writing which meant that at some times in the book, I was quite confused as to what the character really thought.
I think that the author created a great atmosphere of depression in some parts of Fairbanks and especially in Ruth's Gran's house, which I felt was quite harsh and unfeeling, which contrasted severely with the atmosphere of Dumpling's house which felt very warm and welcoming. I thought that most of the sentences were roughly the same length though, and that the atmospheres created could have been stronger and more powerful, if the writer varied the length of the sentences, maybe some being shorter for example.
Overall, I thought that the book was fantastic, especially as it was Bonnie Sue Hitchcock's first novel, and it was totally different to lots of other books I have read, I thought it was great how it gave the reader a taste of Alaska. Would definitely recommend it to others.

Posted on: 28th March 2017 at 09:36 am

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