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Khadija I., Plashet School

The Smell of Other People's Houses

There are a couple of plot lines running through this story and the way they entwine and entangle is quite well thought out and well constructed. The author did have a sense of control over the plot, yet it seemed to run away at points in the story, though she did manage to pull it all back and tie it together by the end. The ending was predictable but not unsatisfactory. Most questions were answered and it made sense, however it was also slightly unrealistic.

The characters were well rounded individuals. They were all likeable yet sustained a realistic amount of flaws and faults. Altogether, they made the book feel human which the plot failed to do. The four main characters that the plot follows rarely interact but when they do, it seems forced and fake. As individuals their thoughts, feelings and reactions seemed natural and instinctual. We found out about them solely through their own eyes and the author left us to make our own decisions about them based on the way they saw the world. I found this incredibly effective. However, as soon as their paths crossed I was left feeling thrown off by their uncharacteristic traits displayed. For example the scene where Ruth and Hank met at the abbey, as amusing as it was, the whole situation and conversation was just so unlike them and abrupt. The author could have developed the story in smaller steps rather than great leaps. As much as I enjoyed reading it and like the characters they were definitely inconsistent at times.

The style of the book was a series of long trains of thought which included narration of the story through each character. This style was appropriate because it handled light and serious topics by creating the right mood from the character's own perspective. The themes were handled through the characters own eyes so the representation was as sensitive as it was realistic. The author intentionally used language to convey hidden feelings throughout the book. Each character was given a slightly different writing method based on their personalities and life situations which successfully curated a 'show not tell' style of writing.

The book is based on the lives and history of real Alaska which all seems accurate seeing as the author herself is of Alaskan descent. It was a place and culture I have rarely encountered in books before and I feel that overall I was educated on lots of different topics.

To conclude, the plot was well thought out though unrealistic at times. The characters were relatively well developed and their narration was effective, although their interactions could be improved upon. The writer's style brought the book to life and was generally a good read.

Posted on: 30th March 2017 at 01:24 pm

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