In The Smell of Other People's Houses four teenagers' lives intertwine over the course of a year in Alaska in 1970. Ruth, who lives with her strict grandmother after her father's death and her mother's breakdown, is sent to a convent when she finds herself pregnant. Dora, who is taken in by a loving family after her abusive father is sent to jail, comes into some luck that may be her downfall. Alyce, a talented dancer who spends summers on her father's fishing boat, longs to try out for a dance scholarship, but doesn't want to abandon her father. Finally, Hank and his brothers, who stow away on a boat after running away from their mother and her abusive boyfriend, find themselves in a world of trouble after one of them goes overboard.
the title indicates the author uses sensory details to
paint a picture of teens trying to find their places in
a difficult world. Her lyrical prose evokes a time and
place not frequently explored and leaves the reader with
an emotionally honest view of kids experiencing domestic
trauma. This book is a finalist for the 2017 William C.
Morris Award, honoring a debut novel written for teens
in 2016. (Booktalk by Sharon Nehls. http://www.coloradobluespruceaward.org/)
realized over time that houses with moms in them do tend
to smell better.” 16-year-old Ruth has learned to cope
after the loss of both of her parents—one to death and
one to grief. She and her little sister live a
meager life with her strict grandmother and she has a
secret that won’t stay hidden for long. Dora is
living with neighbors after an incident with her
abusive, alcoholic father. All she wants is to
stay under the radar. Alyce is a ballet dancer and
her dream is to attend a prestigious program, but her
summer visitation with her dad on his fishing boat is
holding her back. Her family just does not
understand her. Hank and his brothers can’t put up with
his mom’s new boyfriend after the death of his father.
They run away and one of them ends up in danger.
The lives of these four teens in 1970s rural
Alaska unexpectedly intertwine as they try to navigate
life and chase their dreams. (Oklahoma High
School Sequoyah Award, 2018)
|SUBJECTS: Alaska -- History -- 20th century -- Fiction.
Friendship -- Fiction.