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Review by Suze
Growing up in the nineteen-seventies in Alaska isn't always easy. After Ruth's father passes away her mother can't take care of her and her sister any longer. They have to move in with their grandma. In her house everything is clean and organized, she's strict and for Ruth the house doesn't smell like a home. When Ruth makes a mistake she has to carry around a big secret all of a sudden, something that will change her life forever.
Dora might have had some luck financially, but when it comes to family she isn't lucky at all. She prefers staying with her friend Dumpling who does have loving parents. When something happens to Dumpling and things escalate at home Dora has to stand up for herself like she's never done before.
Alyce wants to dance professionally, but the auditions for further education are during the summer and that is when she works on her father's boat. She doesn't dare to tell him about her hopes for the future as she's afraid she will let him down. She rescues a boy from the water and he rewards her with something she could only have dreamed of before.
Hank's home situation is awful and he decides that he and his two brothers will leave as soon as they can. They don't have any money, so they travel as stowaways on a boat. When Hank loses one of his brothers on the water he finds out he isn't as grownup as he thought he was and realizes he needs help.
The main characters in The Smell of Other People's Houses are all connected. Their stories don't always overlap, but they do have things in common and it was interesting to find out what those things were or would be. I immediately loved all of the main characters. They're normal teenagers who are struggling with life like everyone else. In Alaska there are fishing camps, it can be very cold and wet and a lot of families don't have much money. Love conquers all though, which is such a beautiful thing.
I love the title of this story. The smell of a home says a lot about the people who are living in it. It represents their personalities. Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock only needs a few words to create a vivid image. She makes all the stories come to life very well. I was amazed by the beautiful writing and the interesting main characters. I think this book is absolutely brilliant. It's a fantastic book about families, fish, dreams, friendship and love, it's a definite must-read.