From Goodreads.com: It’s senior year, and while Kenzie should be looking forward to prom and starting college in the fall, she is mourning the loss of her father. She finds solace in the one person she trusts, her boyfriend, and she soon finds herself pregnant. Kenzie’s boyfriend and mother do not understand her determination to keep the baby. She is sent to southern Spain for the summer, where she will live out her pregnancy as a cook’s assistant on a bull ranch, and her baby will be adopted by a Spanish couple.
Alone and resentful in a foreign country, Kenzie is at first sullen and difficult. She begins to open her eyes and her heart to the beauty that is all around her and inside of her.
Why I Chose It: Book club!
The Review: I went in to Small Damages with very little expectations. I hadn’t heard a lot about it, and didn’t read any reviews before I started to read the book. What I found was something very special.
At first I found the book a little strange to read. I absolutely cannot picture my mother packing me up and sending me off to Spain against my will. Kenzie’s situation is just something I couldn’t relate to, and I was a little horrified that a mother would do that. But I fell in love with Kenzie right away. She’s a teenage girl who right away knows that she wants to have the baby, and is willing to go against her mother for it. I saw this quiet determination in her, a strength that I found absolutely inspiring.
I’ve never been to Spain, but Kephart paints a beautiful picture of the place that Kenzie was staying. I am so impressed with her writing – it’s almost like poetry that drips off the page, yet flows into a story. One detail that she repeatedly emphasizes is the heat of Spain. Yet she doesn’t just say it’s hot. Kephart is not repetitive. She finds different ways to describe the heat as it wraps itself around Kenzie. While the information is the same – that it’s hot – I never once felt that I was reading the same thing again. Each description of it was unique and masterfully creative.
I also found that the characters are also incredibly well done. On the surface, they are quite simple. Estela, who teaches Kenzie to cook. The gypsies, who sing and dance. Esteban and his horse. Yet Kenzie learns more about each of them, and this simple exterior disappears to show complex people with histories – and futures. I found the whole book was like this: simple at first, but as Kenzie learns more, so did I.
Small Damages is one of those stories that grows on you so slowly that you’ll find yourself loving it far before you know why. The language was absolutely enthralling, and I found myself re-reading sentences for the pure enjoyment of them. As Spain and the people around her grew on Kenzie, they grew on me, and the ending was absolutely perfect. Reading this book was simply a wonderful experience.
Rating: 5 / 5