Small Damages – Book Review

“Five months is forever,” I told her.

“You made your choices,” she said and I said, “No.” Because the only thing I chose was you. – from Small Damages –

Kenzie has just graduated high school when she finds herself pregnant. The father is a boy named Kevin, on his way to Yale and unwilling to accept a child in his life. Kenzie’s mother makes it clear that to stay in Pennsylvania and have this child will not be suitable…and so Kenzie is sent to a small town just outside of Seville, Spain to have her baby and then surrender the infant to a young couple who wishes to adopt.

When Kenzie first arrives in Spain, she is alone, scared and angry. She is resentful of the woman tasked with her care, a woman by the name of Estela who carries her own secrets and “small damages.”

Coincidence or bad luck or no luck. Don Quixote. Whatever it was. Estela’s life is all subtractions. It is small damages and heartache. – from Small Damages –

But, as the days pass, Kenzie discovers something under the bright, hot Spanish sky – acceptance, love, and healing. Among the gypsies, and under the careful guidance of Estela who teaches her to cook, by the side of a special horse named Tierra, and through the eyes of a young man named Esteban…Kenzie finds a family.

Beth Kephart’s newest novel is filled with her signature beautiful prose. It takes the reader into the heart of a young girl who still mourns the death of her father and struggles with the reality of her unborn baby. It introduces Estela, a complicated woman whose huge heart is reflected in the delicious food she makes. It uncovers the colors of Spain and makes the reader fall in love with the people who call that country home.

Down the road and past the arch, the olive trees are casting webs of purple shadows. Across the way, between the sunflowers, the clover is green and the cacti bloom. Out on the horizon, there’s the leaking of silver, blue, and green, like the sea. I sit up front, with Miguel and Luis. The Gypsies sit in the back, in the bed of the truck, while the wind blows a song through Arcadio’s strings. – from Small Damages –

Kephart explores the themes of loss, the connection between parent and child, and the process of healing our hearts. Lyrical and profound, the words which shape this story take the reader on a journey from suburban American life into the mystical and colorful world of a Spanish cortijo.

I loved this novel and its appealing young protagonist. I loved the journey, and the discovery, the hope and the sadness, the path toward healing after trauma, the knowledge that we are never really alone, and that home is not a place on a map but the people who love you. Beth Kephart is an artist with words and Small Damages is another astonishing literary success.

Highly recommended.

FTC Disclosure: In the spirit of full disclosure, readers should know I have a friendship with the author. They should also know that I loved Beth’s words before I discovered the beautiful person behind them. This book was sent to me from the author.

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  1. aw, yay I’m so glad you enjoyed this one as well. 🙂

    I loved the journey, and the discovery, the hope and the sadness, the path toward healing after trauma, the knowledge that we are never really alone, and that home is not a place on a map but the people who love you.

    so beautifully put!And what i love so much about Beth’s books in general.

      • Wendy on June 3, 2012 at 13:57

      Amy @ My Friend Amy: I love everything she writes! I still have some of her older books on my TBR stack…and I am purposefully spreading them out because I always want one of Beth’s books waiting for me 🙂

    • Amy on June 3, 2012 at 12:29

    This book sounds both heart-breaking and heart-warming. I feel for Kenzie being sent so far from home at such a confusing and scary time. It’s not wonder she resented or felt anger towards Estella although it was misplaced. Estella sounds like the terrific person for Kenzie, to get her through this time and out the other side intact and okay. Oh I cannot wait to read this book!

    I always love your reviews…thank you!

      • Wendy on June 3, 2012 at 13:58

      Amy @ Home of Aimala: Oh yes, both heartbreaking and heartwarming…such a beautiful book. Hope you love it. And thank you so much for your kind words about my reviews!

  2. Wendy.

    I am so grateful to you. Thank you SO much for this gorgeous, gorgeous, you write so gorgeously review.

    I am going to send you a real note. I have been traveling all day today and just found this.

    All love,


      • Wendy on June 3, 2012 at 13:59

      Beth: Of COURSE I loved your book – what’s not to love? Wonderful characters, beautiful setting, lovely beyond lovely prose, and heart…lots and lots of heart. xo

    • Serena on June 4, 2012 at 06:22

    Glad to see this book is all I dream it will be. I should be reading this later in the month…though with a sick “Wiggles” I hope I can keep reading at my normal pace. Thanks for a gorgeous review…as usual.

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