Monday, 30 January 2017

REVIEW: "The Smell Of Other People's Houses" by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock // SO MUCH NOSTALGIA!!

Published by Faber & Faber

Page Count: 252 pages (Paperback)
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Historical Fiction.
Publishing Date: April 7th, 2016
Rating: ★★★★☆/4/5

As I sat down to write this review, I realized that this author didn't go for any cheap tricks or overly abused tropes to make this book a success; this book was pure honesty. Therefore, it felt wrong to write a gimmicky review where I scream in all caps about a certain character, like I usually would. Therefore, you may find yourself shocked at the honesty and yearning that this book has inspired in me...proceed if you dare hahaha the gimmicks stop at this...

Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else. 
Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother.
Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive father.
Alyce is staying at home to please her parents.
Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers.
Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Because if we don't save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves?

Why I Picked It Up 

First, it was definitely the title. I heard it, I turned it over in my messy, jumbled brain...and suddenly, out of nowhere, at 2 a.m. in the morning...I felt nostalgic. That's when I knew that this book was going to be an emotional ride, and I was definitely up for it. 

Then the cover happened, I saw it and if my nostalgia hadn't done the job before, that beautiful and electrifying cover convinced me.  

Also, this was set in Alaska, and it's described as a 'realist historical fiction' and I was like:

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This leads me onto the first point why I loved this book..

The Setting

As the title may suggest to most, this book's focal point is all about people's homes, and what makes it their homes...I thought the setting of this story couldn't have been nailed down better. It alternates between a town in Alaska and a fishing boat out in the sea...It was a meticulous setting for a story like this one that carried a sense of nostalgia and this cosy homey-feeling. 

The author is from Alaska herself, I believe, and you could really tell. Her writing, and especially her description of this seemingly 'in the middle of nowhere' town was pleasing to my brain and really painted the picture so well to the point where I felt the reminiscence of the author seeping through the pages. It was kind of tear-jerking honestly...

The Honesty 

Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock focused on the very core of any story: the setting, the plot, the characters... and wrote it all till perfection. 

This story is free of any and all gimmicks that we can often spot in Contemporary writing today, and that pure honesty and sentimentality is what makes this book so outstanding. It starts at such basics, and grows up to be something beautiful and heartwarming. That's why, it made me crazy with some unknown yearning and longing by the end of it.

My favorite part of the whole book was probably that hidden, ambiguous frustration that every character was feeling. Every single one of them had some kind of scorn, and it was almost like their whole journey throughout this story was to break free of that.

Ruth grows up in this metaphorically dark, uncertain place just to actually end up in a home of such descriptions, which allows her to grow up and find herself. Dora is restless and insecure, surrounded by violence, and it takes a confrontation to allow her to realize that she had so much of that anger hidden in her own crevices that wouldn't let her be at peace..

This was basically me throughout the whole book, whenever one of them realized something about themselves and began to piece their shit together:

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I was cheering on these characters so much, and I felt every single one of their pains personally. That's really the bases of what makes this book so great!

Concluding Thoughts

I could probably ramble for another hour about all the aspects of this book that I loved, but ultimately I'd probably just end up boring you all and spoiling the book haha.

To conclude, I'm going to state that the only thing that brought this book down from 5 to 4 stars' rating, is the slightly slow beginning. It was to be expected, with such story concept and so many characters to fit into 250 pages. Nevertheless, it still took some time for me to fully start enjoying the book.

Perhaps the only thing that I can really say to do this book justice is that this was beautiful, and transforming! I recommend this book to absolutely everyone, young or's going to speak to everyone on many levels.

I truly hope you will be picking this book up! Or if you already have, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did.

Talk to me about the beauty of this book in the comments below!
All the love,
Samanta. x


  1. This book sounds so good! I definitely just added it to my TBR pile because it sounds like my type of book. Especially because I have been looking for a contemporary that offers something different and this definitely sounds like it could be that one! I can't wait to get to it :)

    - Jen

    1. Yes, I completely understand you! As someone who isn't the biggest fan of contemporary as it is, an enjoyable experience with one that is under 300 pages is the rarest dinosaur there is haha. Really hope you will be enjoying this! Thank you so much for the comment! -Sam. x