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Liv, Chobham Academy Book Group

The Smell of Other People's Houses

So far the Carnegie awards have introduced us to parts of history that are lesser know to many people, 'The Smell of Other People's Houses' was no different. The story of Alaska's lost independence was something I had never come across before. Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock intertwines the story of four young people as they grow up in 1970s Alaska.
Ruth, Hank, Alyce and Dora all face problems of their own whilst still acknowledging the environment they have all grown up in.

Ruth becomes an outcast from her community when she becomes pregnant and Dora must live with the threat of her abusive Father looming over her. Alyce must choose between embracing her roots or staying home to follow her ballet dancing dreams, and Hank is holding his brothers together as their try to find a better life. I found the background stories to all of the characters engaging and personal, whilst still presenting significant social issues.

My main criticisms of the novel seem small, however I think if the author hadn't made these mistakes, I would be more willing to consider the book as my winner. Firstly, it is marketed as book that embraces the tribes and traditions of Alaska that faded away when the nation joined America-I found that Hitchcock failed to mention details about the tribes in enough detail. Though there are a few mentions,they seem to be buried under the bulk of the main story. Also, the ending tied up all loose ends in a resolution that was far too tidy and unrealistic. If Hitchcock had features things like this, I would have favored it much more.

Posted on: 8th June 2017 at 02:58 pm

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