Indies Introduce

Young Adult

  • The Smell of Other People's Houses, Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
    Wendy Lamb Books, 9780553497786, February 23, 2016 (Young Adult)

    Set in the decade after Alaska achieved statehood, this novel follows four teenagers as they fight for the life they really want. The Smell of Other People’s Houses is a thoughtful, realistic novel about community, both the one you are born into, and the one you can create.

    Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, (Alexandria, VA)

    This is a novel of second chances, of teens being teens, and of what it meant to be the first generation of youth in Alaska to experience statehood. Where else could a ballerina be a pro at chopping the heads off of salmon? Or three brothers run away from home on a ferry? Early 1970s Alaska meant straddling the line between native culture and being an American teen, and Hitchcock gives us that dichotomy while keeping it accessible to today’s youth. The heart of this story is truly universal, because who couldn’t benefit from a second chance to do what’s right? 

    Kari Meutsch, Phoenix Books, Essex, VT

    With a sense of urgency even in the quieter moments, The Smell of Other People’s Houses hooked me from the title, and the beautiful writing and unique characters kept me enthralled through to the end. Four teenagers—quiet, secretive Ruth; frightened but determined Dora; responsible oldest brother Hank; and Alyce, divided between being a fisherman and a ballerina—find themselves against the backdrop of a poor neighborhood in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1970. As Sherman Alexie and Louise Erdrich showed readers life on Native American reservations, now Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock shares the lives of native and white inhabitants of Alaska shortly after it became a state in this poignant and heart-wrenching debut novel about how our pasts shape our futures and about the moments when we might break away. 

    Danielle Borsch, Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

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