Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Rant: Small Damages

It's senior year, and while Kenzie should be looking forward to prom and starting college in the fall, she discovers she's pregnant. Her determination to keep her baby is something her boyfriend and mother do not understand. So she is sent to Spain, where she will live out her pregnancy, and her baby will be adopted by a Spanish couple. No one will ever know.

Alone and resentful in a foreign country, Kenzie is at first sullen and difficult. But as she gets to know Estela, the stubborn old cook, and Esteban, the mysterious young man who cares for the horses, she begins to open her eyes, and her heart, to the beauty that is all around her, and inside her. Kenzie realizes she has some serious choices to make--choices about life, love, and home.

In which I continue to recommend books that nobody will like except me.

Anyone who has followed along on my blog knows my tastes skew literary.* Not Real Literary, but literary with a commercial slant, as I have rejected books before for being Too Literary for me. I have to say up front, this is one of the more literary books I've read. (HA, can I say "literary" one more time?) Nonetheless, I really dug the hell out of this book. A bit surprising, because I've tried Beth Kephart's stuff before, and ended up putting it aside out of frustration because Nothing Was Happening.

But I believe the tagline of this novel is "Juno meets Under the Tuscan Sun." Which is a pretty accurate representation. I thought the pregnancy thing was well done. The book, in case you are wondering, does not make a political statement about pro-life versus pro-choice. To me, it felt like Kephart was looking at one issue, one person, one situation. And Kenzie makes a perfectly respectable decision here (not spoiling what it is).

To read this book is to enjoy language for language's sake. I guess that's sort of what literary is. Again, this book, I look at it more as a collection of beautiful scenes rather than a coherent plot. One of my favorite lines (someone else on Goodreads quoted this one too, because it's so lovely) comes from the beginning of the second chapter:

"When I open the door, a nun blackbirds by, and I keep walking out into the air, which smells like fruit and sun and the color blue; it smells like blue in Seville."

How gorgeous! If you like that, you will be getting a whole lot of it here.

Overall, just a very pretty, quiet little novel that can be read while you're lying in a hammock on a sunny afternoon.

PS I think the author of CODE NAME VERITY is a ninja? And/or master of the universe, because I swear to you, that book is stalking me. I bought SMALL DAMAGES on my Kindle, and VERITY was a suggested buy. I mean, come on. Those two books can't even pretend to be similar. But I suppose I should take the hint.

*With notable exceptions. I mean, you are looking at the Number One Fan of Percy Jackson, and I think we can all agree nothing about those books are literary. Also love me some Stephanie Perkins, Maureen Johnson, and Libba Bray. But if we're talking debut authors or books I'm picking off the shelf I've never heard of, I usually go for "quieter" books.

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