- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Philomel Books (July 19, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399257489
- ISBN-13: 978-0399257483
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,037,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Small Damages Hardcover – July 19, 2012
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“Lovely and unusual—at once epic and intimate” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
— Kirkus Reviews
“This beautifully written ‘summer of transformation’ story will have readers feeling as torn about Kenzie’s choice as she is.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
— Publishers Weekly
“‘Dreamlike’ is one word for ‘Small Damages’…[Kenzie’s] percolating story emerges through Kephart’s lilting prose in the same hazy way you’d meander through the narrow white streets of Seville…The reader is lost and found and lost and found again.”— New York Times Book Review
“Lovely” — The Los Angeles Times
— Los Angeles Times
Beautifully told, the characters’ stories are soulful and compelling, and the setting is rich and alive....This story is unexpectedly tender and original, never falling prey to cliché or the trappings of the typical teen problem novel.
— School Library Journal
“Kephart has created a lyrical, beautiful story about a young woman at a turning point, struggling to reconcile her choices, find her place in the world and discover the true meaning of family.”— BookPage
Small Damages is a magical story that is simple, yet complex. — VOYA
"Stunning. Kephart's lyrical prose lingers with you long after the final page. I simply didn't want it to end."— Ruta Sepetys, author of New York Times bestseller, Between Shades of Gray
— Ruta Sepetys
"As this delicate and luscious novel unfolds, the lines are blurred between love and loss, past and present, real and magical, and even life and death."--Kathryn Erskine, author of National Book Award-winner Mockingbird. — Kathryn Erskine
“Escape to Spain with Beth Kephart’s Small Damages.”— BELLA Magazine
We wish to slow down, breathe in the smell of Estela's paella, the scent of the orange trees. As soon as the book ends, we want to begin it again. — Shelf Awareness
Kephart is a linguistic Midas — everything she puts to paper is golden, including this gem. — Family Circle
"Small Damages is a wrenching celebration of choice. To read Kephart is to splendidly dream with both eyes open." — Rita Williams-Garcia, author of One Crazy Summer, winner of the Newbery Honor Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award
— Rita Williams-Garcia
About the Author
Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books. She teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Pennsylvania. When she's not writing or teaching, she loves to take photographs and to garden. Beth lives in Devon, Pennsylvania.
Top customer reviews
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Kenzie is a teenage girl with an age-old problem. Pregnant and alone. Or at least she feels alone, for her mother has sent her away to Spain to stay with people recommended to her by a friend. And Kenzie's boyfriend Kevin, bound for Yale in the fall, seems detached and unable to provide even the smallest amount of emotional support.
The story is told in Kenzie's first person voice, but she is also speaking to her baby. She articulates her thoughts, her feelings, and describes what is happening around her. In those moments, I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
The language is beautiful: like a painting. Through the words, we can see what the characters are seeing. We begin in the present moment, with occasional snippets filtering in from the past that tell us a bit about Kenzie and Kevin and their friends. And slowly we understand that the process for Kenzie is one of coming to terms with her life, the choice she made to have the baby, and ultimately, what to do next.
In the end I gave this one four stars. It was lovely, it was introspective, but for me it did not have the power of some of the author's other work. Still, I recommend it for young girls who might be struggling with their own issues, or adults who enjoy looking back at that time in their own lives.
So maybe you read that last line and are thinking of some Teen Mom kind of shenanigans. I can understand why, but SMALL DAMAGES is a very serious little book. Kenzie is dealing with lots of emotions, and they aren't even hormone-related. See, she doesn't get a long with her image-conscious mother at all, and in the aftermath of her father's death, they are butting heads even more than usual. Kenzie was, no question, a daddy's girl. Not in a spoiled way. In a way where it was always those two against her mother; they understood each other. For a little while, Kenzie finds solace in the arms of her bff/boyfriend, Kevin, but one night winds up getting a little TOO much solace, and she gets pregnant. Neither the boyfriend nor the mom are supportive AT ALL of Kenzie's pretty brave decision to keep the baby, so her boyfriend basically deserts her to hang with their friends, and her mom ships her off to a friend's ranch in Spain, where she has also arranged for a couple to get the baby once it is born. I told you. DRAMA, and FEELINGS.
There's very little lightness going on in SMALL DAMAGES, but Beth Kephart manages to find some. The housekeeper at the ranch, Estela, is delightfully brusque and tough. I enjoyed her and Kenzie's interactions very much because there are no pretensions between them. They are crabby together, and pissy, but they grow to care for each other in a grandmother/granddaughter kind of way. It was nice. And of course there's the guy, Esteban. He's UBER mysterious and quiet, almost so much so that he hardly seems to appear in the story. I wish that there was more meat on his relationship with Kenzie in SMALL DAMAGES, if only because he becomes important to her, slowly.
Really, there's no question that the biggest, most important relationship in SMALL DAMAGES is between Kenzie and her baby. The whole book is written in the first person, but often she makes a point of addressing the baby directly, or the two of them together as "we." I'm not a mother, but I can imagine that this private bond that a mother shares with her unborn baby is pretty special, and Kenzie is always aware of it, even as she is unsure of her future, and getting closer and closer to giving her child up. I LOVED SMALL DAMAGES for this. The language Beth Kephart uses to describe Kenzie's life in these moments is really beautiful and touching, and it made me feel very protective and proud of Kenzie. Even when she was being emo and droopy and self-pitying. She has good instincts.
Of course, part of the reason that SMALL DAMAGES is so different and striking is the setting. Friends, if you ever get the chance to visit Spain, don't be a ninny and say "no." It's a gorgeous place, and the people are so much like the characters in this book. They are open and warm and full of emotions. You can tell that Beth Kephart has spent lots of time in Spain because you can feel all of those things as you read. The liveliness and passion, as well as the harsher, quiet aspects of life on a bull ranch. There's some great metaphors between Kenzie and her baby and Miguel, the ranch owner, and his bulls that he raises for bullfights. Bottom line: I don't think SMALL DAMAGES would be anywhere near as good as it is without three things: Kenzie, the writing, and Spain. It's a truly great combo.
Beth Kephart has written a really special story that paints a very different picture of teenage pregnancy than the ones we see in the media all the time, and I'm thankful for it. SMALL DAMAGES doesn't pull any punches about how hard it is to be young and on the verge of motherhood. The things you sacrifice, the changes you undergo, the feelings of responsibility for another life. It's heavy stuff, written wonderfully. There are things about SMALL DAMAGES that I wish had MORE to them-Esteban, as well as a few things near the end. But I often find myself thinking about what happened to Kenzie and her baby after the end of SMALL DAMAGES, and I think that's always a good sign. This is a truly lovely book that will leave its print on you.
Most recent customer reviews
After having some mixed experiences with Kephart's previous works, I had decided to swear her off, sensing that we just did not click.Read more