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Molly, Backwell School

The Smell of Other People's Houses

This novel is based on the complex, but somewhat predictable lives of four teenagers living in Alaska in the 1970's.

The novel is relatives short, and would be a lot better if some of the details were a bit more developed; it felt like the story was rushed and specific pieces of the 'puzzle' just happened to slot into place.

It is told through the eyes of four different characters, the first introduced to us as a five year old girl. She loses her parents and is then adopted by her strict Gran. There is a time skip, and Ruth is a teenage girl, hoping that she will someday find something better. After becoming pregnant, her Grandmother sends her away to an abbey so that the nuns can find someone to adopt her baby.
The second character introduced to us is Dora, who is living with a friend(Ruth's sister's friend's sister) to escape the abuse from her alcoholic parents she experiences at home.
Next is Alyce, who leaves her family (Ruth's friend's family) every year to go fishing with her dad. However, she is an aspiring ballet dancer who's audition for the Nutcracker unfortunately coincides with her annual fishing trip.
Lastly, there is Hank. He is the oldest of three brothers who each play a big part in the story. Their father was killed, and they are running away.
There are many different issues raised in this book, but they don't seem believable and are almost crammed into the storyline. I feel like the book could be improved by having a 'normal' character in it. A character that the reader could connect with would make it easier to immerse yourself in the book. I expected the stories to intertwine at some point, which they did. However, it happened in such an unlikely way, which made it hard to believe anymore. I didn't like the way the word around them was described. Everyone seemed to escape by dying.

This book had potential from the start, but I just couldn't connect with the characters and the plot wasn't developed enough for me to really enjoy it. I'm not saying the book was unpleasant to read, just a bit more boring than it could've been.

Posted on: 22nd March 2017 at 07:28 am

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