30 August 2015

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

The Smell of Other People's HousesThe Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm never sure if this qualifies as historical fiction (it's set in the 1970s) or contemporary (because it's in my lifetime), nor is it clear why that era is the one chosen for the setting. Perhaps it's because today we have cell phones, and the internet, and Alaska doesn't feel quite as foreign as it did then? The revolving narrators, at this point, feel like some sort of editorial mandate: thou shalt write multiple narrators and first-person POVs. So that's the lost star.

Beyond that, however, this is a very powerful book. People forming a mixed community in Fairbanks, one where the children go to school and play together without really thinking much about their differences in terms of race but do in terms of what the family is like and what the financial situation is. That felt very real. The intersections of their lives, particularly at the end, were sometimes a little forced but that also was somewhat the fault of the narrative device. The comparisons to Sherman Alexie and Louise Erdrich are spot on.

ARC provided by publisher.

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