by Beth Kephart
published in 2012
a sweeping 5/5 stars
Goodreads / Kephart’s Website
“You aren’t happy,” Estela says.
“I can’t be happy,” I say.
“Look at me, Kenzie.”
“I’m looking at you, Estela.”
“Do you know your own heart?”
“I don’t know anything.”
“Go,” she says, “and think. And don’t come back until you know.
Books are worth nothing without a reader. But, that doesn’t mean a book should feel obligated to give away its whole essence as soon as the reader has turned to the first page. A true book invites the reader to discover its potential and its nuances, while maintaining the enigma and allurement of its conception. And one of the books that does just that, without a doubt, is Small Damages.
Kenzie is spending the summer after her senior year in Spain, bringing with her a growing belly and an undetermined future. Her mom has sent her to avoid dealing with the public embarrassment that will come with her pregnancy, and Kenzie’s boyfriend, Kevin, is failing to understand her choice and has his eyes set more on Yale than her chocking situation. Kenzie spends her days in an old cortijo, surrounded by an eclectic array of personalities spanning from the boisterous cook, Estela, the free-spirited gypsies, and the reticent young man who spends most of his time with animals, Esteban. Here, Kenzie finds herself thinking, and observing, and discovering the parts of herself she didn’t even know existed, and the parts of her herself that are becoming to be.
Small Damages has a lusciously intimate quality to it. Kephart’s prose is divine: the words never speak too little or too much. The sentences never meet an edge; they are continuously weaving itself into the next, creating delicate cycles of imagery and rhythm. The prose speaks for Kenzie with honesty and heart, free from any misguided ambiguity that sometimes leaves the reader to dig for more information that doesn’t exist. Read the rest of this entry »