Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Small Damages by Beth Kephart

Instead of spending the summer between high school and college on the Jersey shore with her best friends and her boyfriend, Kenzie has been exiled to Spain.  Why?  Because she's pregnant, and her mother can't handle having anyone know what an embarrassment her daughter is, and her boyfriend, Yale-bound Kevin, well, he's going to Yale.

So instead of flopping in the sand every day, carefree with sunglasses and sunscreen, Kenzie has been sent to Miguel, the owner of a huge bull ranch, Los Nietos, outside of Seville and a friend of a friend of her mother's, to wait for her baby to born.  Parents have aleady been lined up, Javier and Adair, so all Kenzie has to do is wait, and then she will be free - free to go to college, free to forget and pretend that all this never happened.

Except she doesn't know if she wants to forget, or to be free of her choices.

As Kenzie reluctantly becomes a part of the heart Los Nietos, working in the kitchen with gruff, abrupt Estela, the queen and cook of Los Nietos with plenty of heartbreak in her own past, and quiet Esteban, the ranch horseman who has a way with horses and birds and with Kenzie's heart, the chaotic tangle of her head and heart slow to match the pace of the summer heat of Spain.  Suddenly, the past, her mother, Kevin, all of it, are not so important as the here, the now, and the choices that suddenly belong only to Kenzie.

This lovely little book is spare, quiet, and one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.  It is the sharp scent of orange and blinding white of sun and cool blue of shadows and night, heat and heart, sadness and soul.  I really can't do justice to its language with any of my own, so I'll just say that this is the author's love song to Spain - so much so that you'll be putting on a white dress and eating oranges and olives as you're savoring its pages.  Check out my new favorite novel @the library!

(who will hopefully finish Seraphina over lunch today!)

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