My 2 cents:
I read Small Damages by Beth Kephart in one day. I checked it out of the library before lunch, and read until I finished it – at 9:45 p.m. It was a Monday in December, chilly and wet. I put it down only to take a shower and feed the cat. I read it straight through the day and two meals.
What can a book reviewer say about a book she loves? I want to walk into the pages of Spain, near Seville, present-day, and become part of the story. I want to cook and learn how to make paella from Estela, the queen of Los Nietos. I want to get a camcorder and film a movie about life for my daughter the way Kenzie does for her daughter. I want to sit in the courtyard in the hot sun with the lizards, and watch Esteban shoe his horse, while Kenzie waits, watching, too. I want to taste saffron, red and gold, from Estela's mother's jar.
Kephart's novel begins like any number of other well-written, interesting Young Adult novels. An intelligent, affluent girl, Kenzie, discovers she is pregnant in her senior year of high school, just months after the sudden death of her father from a heart attack. Kenzie adored and admired her photographer father, and grieves for him, while her caterer-mother, in her own grief, moves forward and away from Kenzie. Kevin, Kenzie's boyfriend, is a great guy, who's already been early-accepted into Yale. Thing is, Kevin's not ready to be a husband or a dad. Kenzie's mom's not ready to be a grandmother, so Kenzie is given a choice: “Spain or nothing.” Days later, Kenzie finds herself in Spain, not the Jersey shore, with strangers, friends of an old friend of her mother's, who know someone who wants to adopt a baby. Kenzie's baby.
There, in Spain, the novel changes from a good read into something different: a love letter to an unborn child, a love letter to a cross, old cook, a love letter to a gypsy, and, central to all, a love letter to a country. There in Spain - in the dust, the heat, the flashing colors and the sizzling aromas, Small Damages becomes a novel that might change your life when you read it.
“Don't judge, my father said. Evaluate. Evaluate. especially, yourself ...” p. 229.
“There's peace in not wanting what can't be had. There's peace in not regretting what was.” p. 275.
Worth Your Time? Whether you're flying through your senior year of high school right now, will be soon, or your graduation day is a sweet memory, the answer is a resounding YES.