Book Review – Small Damages by Beth Kephart
April 29, 2015
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.
I picked this book up while I was searching for “foodish” books for a guest post I’ll be doing next month. I have some mixed feelings about this book, but here are my thoughts in a nutshell. I usually try to give you some sort of pros/cons list, but I recognize that some of the items that were cons for me won’t necessarily be for others. Instead I’ll just talk about some elements in general:
- The one item that didn’t appeal strongly to me, but I’m sure would not be a problem for others was the writing. I just wasn’t a fan of Kephart’s style. It is a pet peeve of mine when authors use phrases as complete sentences…..repeatedly. I also never determined (although I didn’t really stress myself out trying to figure it out) why the author sometimes used quotes to indicate what someone was saying and sometimes did not (you may need to read the book to understand).
- There is a great deal of symbolism and imagery – I don’t think you need to understand it to enjoy the story, but it is extensive. If I were in high school and writing a paper, it would probably be on the symbolism of different foods (particularly oranges), the weather, colors, or birds.
- The ending was a bit unrealistic for me. I can’t say more because I hate spoilers, but I don’t think it would ever happen in anyone’s actual life.
- The author loves Spain, and this novel was an homage to all things Spain for her. Her love of the country, its scenery, its people, its food was evident. It did make me want to travel to the country while I was reading.
- I thought Kephart provided an interesting perspective on teenage pregnancy. None of the reactions of the characters were new or novel, but the way she intertwined all of the responses felt different to me.
- I was not a fan of the way Kephart developed most of the relationships in the novel, particularly the romantic relationships – one came out of left field and didn’t create a sense of excitement when it happened, while another remained stagnant after decades and remained that way throughout the novel. If you’re looking for a good love story, this is not it.
Although this isn’t my favorite book of all time, there were elements that I could appreciate. I don’t think I’ll be running out to read any of Kephart’s other books anytime soon though unless I get a very strong recommendation from a friend whose reading style I trust!
Have you read Small Damages? What did you think?