The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister is an adult fairy tale. Young Emmeline is raised by her dad on a remote island. One wall of their cabin is devoted to her dad’s passion- storing scents as one would store images with a photo. He uses a special machine to capture scents on small pieces of paper and then rolls and seals the papers into small glass bottles. She has a gifted sense of smell as well, and is raised to hone it even more. She is content with their life, until realizing that her dad has been untruthful. This catapults her into rebellious action, ultimately ending in her father’s accidental death.
Henry is a friend of her dad’s who finds her deeply in mourning and takes her off the island. Together with his wife Colette, they raise Emmeline within their beach resort. Emmeline struggles with school and friendships, until meeting Fisher. He is the only person accepting of her unusual sense and is broken from his life experiences too. Their attempt to run away together ends poorly, and Fisher leaves Emmeline behind to escape his violent father.
Eventually, Emmeline ventures out to look for Fisher and her mother. She finds both and manages to build a relationship with her extremely successful mother. There are two sides to the tale of her parent’s failed relationship. Emmeline must come to terms with where she fits in, and the type of person she wants to be.
The concept of this book is so unique, and there is much more detail beyond my quick summary. Reading people and places, whether through gestures or scents, is the gift possessed by characters in this book. Scents tell a story as they tie all of us to certain moments and people, which is the premise of this book.