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Mattie, Chobham Academy Book Group

The Smell of Other People's Houses

Just as side note, I will be referencing 'Salt to the Sea' throughout this review.

This book did not look great when I first picked it up. The setting just didn't interest me and it didn't use the various narrator trope very well. However, once I got into it, the complex themes and tie-ins within each character's perspective seemed less boring and more a work of genius.

First things first, let's look at what I thought of the characters:

Ruth - Felt her backstory was irrelevant and had little emotional character building. I felt sorry for her near the end of the book, and was able to empathise, but she just seemed immature and foolish at the beginning.

Dora - She didn't really tie in to the story besides to show the readers what was going on in Fairbanks during climactic scenes. The conflict at the end regarding her father was over too quickly and lacked any real conflict. Although her personality did allow for a more grounded and rational character.

Alyce - Her tie-in with Sam and emotional dilemma with her father were the highlights of the story in my opinion. Definitely my favourite character.

Hank - He and his brothers were great for tying the story together. Using Hank as the perspective for those scenes was also a good choice. All in all, a very well-rounded character.

As for using the multiple narrator trope, there are times when this is used well, and times when it is not. For clarification, I will relate this to Salt to the Sea.

Using loads of pages for each character can become confusing, especially at the beginning of the book when I had no idea this trope was being used. Salt to the Sea (in my opinion) did this better.

On the other hand, this book just made small tie-ins and references to the other characters, and only truly linked their stories at the end. I think this is better than how
Salt to the sea did it, where the only thing you learned by switching perspectives was secrets certain characters were keeping.

Posted on: 3rd June 2017 at 04:44 pm

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