Book Review: Small Damages by Beth Kephart

smalldamagesTitle: Small Damages
Author: Beth Kephart
Genre: YA contemporary fiction
Publisher: Philomel Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: The streets of Seville are the size of sidewalks, and there are alleys leaking off from the streets.

Goodreads blurb: 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.

It has been over a week since I finished Small Damages, and yet typing this, I can still feel the experience of being enveloped in Beth Kephart’s beautiful novel. I can feel the dust beneath my bare feet, hear the flamenco music, smell the oranges, taste the anchovies. It is very unlikely that I’ll ever visit Spain, but I feel like I already have memories of the place, thanks to this book. Beth obviously loves Spain, and every page is suffused with that love and longing.

The setting in Small Damages is a character in and of itself, but there are many other people to love in its pages: fierce and faithful Estela; strong, solid Esteban; and the broken – yet determined – Kenzie.

Beth’s books are often small, and I am astonished by how much she can make me know the people in her books with just a few words, just a whisper of plot. Her books are lyrical and poetic, and they make me want to write, to try to put myself down on paper the way she does. I wish that more people knew her work; she is a treasure.

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20 Responses to Book Review: Small Damages by Beth Kephart

  1. I agree – lovely book!

  2. MoniqueReads
    Twitter: MoniqueReads

    Beth Kephart and Small Damages are new to me, but they sound really interesting. *off to do more research*

  3. bermudaonion(Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    Beth Kephart certainly has a way with words. Your wonderful review reminded me that I need to buy a copy of this book!

  4. irene says:

    I didn;’t read your review, just in case there was a spoiler.Just checked in to see the rating, I’m not surprised you gave it a 5. Love Beth’s writing. Thanks

  5. Serena
    Twitter: SavvyVerseWit

    I loved this book…I still think about Kenzie!

  6. Natalie ~ the Coffee and a Book Chick
    Twitter: coffeebookchick

    I am so behind with reading Beth Kephart’s books; I need to just dive in!

  7. Beth Kephart says:

    A true fact: Whenever I learn that a book, particularly this book, has been read by someone whose opinion matters deeply to me I start to tremble with worry. Have I disappointed? It then takes me several minutes before I can click on the link.

    I am so glad and grateful to you that I clicked on this link.

    Thank you for these beautiful words.


    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Beth – Your words are sweet. 🙂 And I am so glad that you continue to share your words with the world.

  8. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks

    That is definitely a talent to make a character come alive in so few pages. I think this is an author I should check out!

  9. I haven’t yet read anything by this author. I want to because everyone is always saying how great she is, but I have to confess that when I am looking for my next read, none of her books appeal to me. I will give this one a try though. Not quite yet, but one of these days. I mean, I have to see what all the fuss is about, right?

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