RSS

Category Archives: Historical fiction

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

19370304The Smell of Other People’s Houses

William C. Morris Award Finalist for 2017

Four narratives of teens living in Alaska soon after it became a state intertwine into a coming-of-age story that is unflinchingly detailed and messy with emotion but ultimately heartwarming.

When Ruth was a young child, she lived with her mother and father who loved their life hunting and enjoying each other. After her father died in an airplane crash trying to keep Alaska from being a state, young Ruth and her infant sister Lily are taken to live with their firm, serious grandmother while their mother quietly goes mad from grief. Life with Gran means having church casseroles a lot and never feeling too good about yourself. The only thing keeping Ruth sane is her best friend Selma and her boyfriend Ray, but when Ray gets a new girlfriend and Ruth has a secret to keep, she begins to see things differently.

Dora feels she will never escape the shadow of her father’s abusive drunkenness and her mother’s alcoholism and inability to be responsible or loving. She lives with her best friend Dumpling and her family in order to stay safe. However, when she wins a portion of the Ice Classic and the newspaper really wants to know details, Dora must confront her worst fears, especially when an accident happens and her future is in jeopardy.

Alyce longs to try out for ballet to win a scholarship for college, but with her parents divorced, each summer she goes to help her dad during salmon season and that conflicts with her audition. Since her parents have been divorced, Alyce doesn’t want to make things worse, but she finds it hard to talk to them, especially when her dream is so different from theirs.

Hank and his younger brothers have stolen away on a ferry boat to find a better life away from the unhappiness of their mother and stepfather, but when Sam, the middle brother, falls overboard and goes missing, Hank does everything to try and find him. In their search, the three brothers might find something better than they expected.

I was unprepared to be emotional over the ending of this book! The descriptions sometimes sear in your mind (the description of the backstrap and bloody hands in her mother’s hair?), but yet it kind of brings you to the 1970’s Alaska. You never knew thoughts on Alaska could be so complex. It really brought about an understanding of the different types of characters that made up Alaska when it was new, and the heritage would still be important today what with the fishing trades, the hunting (newsworthy recently), and indigenous peoples. Since the descriptions could be unappealing at times and many of the characters so unhappy, I wasn’t sure what I was reading, but I am glad I finished it. It still propelled you along (as long as you didn’t get confused about who is narrating which section), and the ending blew me away. Lots of tears, happy tears?

If you want to read an interview with Bonnie-Sue, read this over at the Hub.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Historical fiction, Young Adult/Teen

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson

This week I’m over at Tynga’s Reviews again posting about Like a River Glorious, the second installment in the Gold Seer Trilogy. Click the cover to follow (or click here) and enjoy the quotes!

18054071

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Today I’m posting over on Tynga’s Reviews about Walk on Earth a Stranger by one of my absolutely favorite authors, Rae Carson! 11659891_10153374014165520_1677397833_o

I was fortunate last year to be able to go to ALA in San Francisco where I met Rae and received an ARC of this book. Click the picture below to view my post (or click here) about her newest series, and look for my review of book two coming soon!

17564519

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Fantasy, Historical fiction, Young Adult/Teen

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

thehiredgirlThe Hired Girl

In 1911 Pennsylvania, farm girl Joan Skraggs wants a life like those in her beloved books, one with romance and beauty and adventure. But Joan’s father hates her books and the ideas they and her mother put into her head. When her father refuses to give her some recognition for her hard work at the farm taking care of him and her three brothers and then he burns her beloved books when she asks for money to improve their situation, Joan decides to run away and become a hired girl in Philadelphia. She reinvents herself as Janet Lovelace working for a charitable Jewish merchant family, the Rosenbachs, with a persnickety old cook, Malka, who needs help. The Rosenbachs become a sort of family to Joan, with the father who highly values education, the kind eldest son who wants to study the Talmud, the younger son who wants to be an artist, and their young daughter who hates learning. Joan catalogs her journey in her diary, resolving to be as refined and elegant as the novels she loves, and in her experiences, Joan can truly transform into a bright heroine like the ones she’s daydreamed about.

I really liked this book. It definitely has that turn of phrase and tone that evokes similar thought-provoking award winners and the appeal is probably less broad as a result of both the more literary writing and the subject matter. However, this could be for younger audiences who are voracious or more serious readers as they will appreciate Joan’s ability to dream and her same love of literature. Joan herself is inspiring for having the courage and perseverance necessary to achieve a new future, one in which she might have a chance at happiness and independence. I love that theme of feminism! I also really liked the other characters and their development, particularly how their interactions with Joan teach her different ideas and how Joan learns to think for herself rather than simply listen to what she’s told. Joan is funny in her naivety, strength of will, and her straightforwardly honest demeanor that occasionally causes a few mishaps with her new employers. This book is perfect if you’re looking for something thought-provoking and yet quietly inspiring, especially for its love of learning and education.

Note: This title will be more appealing to older readers as it follows the slower maturation of classic literature than your typical fast-paced YA. It would be a very interesting research essay to compare and contrast this book and heroine with one of Joan’s favorites like Jane Eyre and how both evolve…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Historical fiction, Young Adult/Teen

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

24891517

Today, I’m posting over on Tynga’s Reviews. Click on the image above to follow the link.

To help you get ready for some haunted mansions like the one in Sanctuary, here’s a few I thought were particularly lovely to keep in mind.

P.S. Just for fun, I have actually visited a haunted mansion. Pictured below is the Sorrel-Weed house in Savannah, GA where my husband and I unintentionally caught an EVP on our honeymoon.
House-Front-Lace

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,