• Jenn Kalchik

Book Review: The Scent Keeper

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Reese's Book Club has been a great resource for me to find books to read. Some of the authors of books on this list have written other books that I absolutely adore, like The Two Lives of Lydia Bird. In February 2020, the pick was "The Scent Keeper" by Erica Bauermeister. The Scent Keeper is a wonderful coming of age story and highlights the importance of your senses.

At the beginning of the novel, Emmeline lives with her father on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest. Her Emmeline's father has taught her to survive by crafting her sense of smell, while he spends their days capturing different scents using science. After a tragic accident, Emmeline now lives at a summer resort [The Cove] with the owners, Henry and Claudia. She soon discovers that Henry and Claudia had been helping her and her father survive on the island. As she learns about life on the mainland during her middle school and high school years, she discovers secrets about her parents and her past that takes her on a journey of self-discovery.

I was not expecting to enjoy The Scent Keeper as much as I did. I had a hard time picking places to stop to do things like go to sleep. Bauermeister did a wonderful job with describing scents in the book as if you could smell them right then and there. It was a captivating, unique storyline that made me want to keep reading. We eventually get to meet her mother and discover how scents can aide businesses, which I didn't realize was a profession. I also loved how Fisher and Emmeline's relationship progressed and how they learn to forge their own paths while trying not to be exactly like their parents. I also loved how Bauermeister correlated Emmeline's coming-of-age growth with the aging of Henry and Claudia's dog: Dodge.

For my 2020 Reading Challenges, I used "The Scent Keeper" for the following prompts and challenges:

When I started the PopSugar Reading Challenge, I had absolutely no idea what a bildungsroman was. For those that have no idea like me, here's the official definition from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

bildungsroman (literature ): a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character

Usually, bildungsroman novels are associated with teenagers, but the definition makes me think that any book that involves serious psychological growth of the main character. The definition clearly fits for The Scent Keeper. Erica Bauermeister wrote Emmeline as a wonderful, relatable character that most readers can see themselves as. The ending did seem a bit abrupt, and I wished there was a bit more closure at the end of the story, but otherwise, The Scent Keeper is a great, unique read that will keep your sense tingling.

"Sometimes there were those unreal perfumes, jumbling and talking too loudly—but underneath them I could always find the person. Sadness, like the dark purple juice of a blackberry. Fear, like the metallic taste of an oncoming storm. Love, which smelled like nothing so much as fresh bread." - The Scent Keeper
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