The Smell of Other People's Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses, by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Publication Informationn: New York : Wendy Lamb Books, 2016

Sumary:  The Smell of Other people's Houses is a William C. Morris honor book, awarded by the American Library Association for the best young-adult debut.  It follows four Alaskan teens in 1970, a mere 11 years after the territory achieved statehood.

Ruth, 16, and her little sister Lily, 11, live with their grim, religious grandmother in a low-income neighborhood of Fiarbanks, becuase their mother had a breakdown a decade earlier when their father died in a plane crash on his way back from lobbying against the statehood.  Ruth has a secret she has no idea how to share.  Dora is an Inupiat teen with an alcoholic mother and imprisioned father.  She lives with Dumpling and Bunny's Athabascan Indian family down the street from Ruth and Lily.  Alyce, who's slightly better off, is a ballerina with divorced parents who spends her summers on her father's commercial fishing boat.  And then there's hank, who is stowing away on a boat headed for the Lower 48 with his younger brothers Sam and Jack, until Sam accidently ends upoverboard.  The narratie weaves together each of the stories so all the characters are intwined in emotional, romantic and life-changing ways. 

Book Trailer:


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Links of Interest:

Author website:

Alaska History and Cultural Studies:

Teen Pregnancy Resouces from Medline:

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