Summary and book reviews of Small Damages by Beth Kephart

Small Damages

by Beth Kephart

Small Damages by Beth Kephart X
Small Damages by Beth Kephart
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2012, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2013, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Ellis Smith
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About this Book

Book Summary

Lyrically told in a way that makes the heat, the colors, and the smells of Spain feel alive, Small Damages is a feast for the heart and the soul, and a coming-of-age novel not easily forgotten.

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.

Lyrically told in a way that makes the heat, the colors, and the smells of Spain feel alive, Small Damages is a feast for the heart and the soul, and a coming-of-age novel not easily forgotten.

Ages 13+

O N E

The streets of Seville are the size of sidewalks, and there are alleys leaking off from the streets. In the back of the cab, where I sit by myself, I watch the past rushing by. I roll the smeary window down, stick out my arm. I run one finger against the crumble-down of walls. Touch them for you: Hello, Seville.

At the Hotel de Plaza de Santa Isabel, the old lady in the vestibule is half my height, not even. She has thick elephant legs and opaque stockings, and maybe the sun banged her awake when I opened the door, or maybe the look of me disturbs her, but whatever it is, she's bothered. She puts her hand out for my deposit, finds a key, and knocks it down on the table between us. She thrusts her chin sky high, and I turn and take the marble stairs, where there are so many smashedin footsteps before mine. Smashed in and empty and hollow.

My room is long and thin, like a hallway corked on either end by a door. The first door takes me in from ...

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Reviews

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I have never been to Spain. I have never stayed on a bull ranch just outside of Seville, where the heat beats down on the olive groves, and the smell of saffron permeates the thick atmosphere. I have never breathed in the air there, “which smells like fruit and sun and the color blue.”

But after reading Small Damages I feel like I have.

In fiction, a vividly drawn landscape can ground the reader. It can help the reader rest comfortably inside the story because she knows – by way of her senses – where she is. Beth Kephart is a master at this. She creates landscape in a glorious way. With lyrical prose that rings unique and familiar all at the same time, she opens the reader’s ears, eyes, nose and skin – she transports the reader smack into the middle of the world she has created...continued

Full Review (577 words).

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(Reviewed by Tamara Ellis Smith).

Media Reviews

School Library Journal
While the subject matter might seem familiar, even overdone, this story is unexpectedly tender and original, never falling prey to cliché or the trappings of the typical teen problem novel. Or if it does - the moodiness, the somewhat easy resolution - the style is so engaging that the tale is still fulfilling.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This beautifully written 'summer of transformation' story will have readers feeling as torn about Kenzie's choice as she is.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Lovely and unusual - at once epic and intimate. Ages 13+.

Reader Reviews

Louise J

Disappointing...
Young, Kenzie is sent to Seville, Spain in 1995 and upon arrival is setting off for Los Nietos to a farmhouse or cortijo. It is owned by a man named, Miguel and is actually a bull ranch. Miguel is a friend of, Kenzie’s mother, and he has agreed to ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

A Visit to Seville

Located in the southern part of Spain, Seville is Andalusia's capital and its biggest city. The Guadalquivir River runs through the city, which is close to the Atlantic Ocean.

Seville is the capital of Andalusia in Spain



Iberians founded Seville, which was later the center of many conquests and settlements by the Romans, Vandals and Visigoths. The Moors conquered it in 712 AD, and then Ferdinand the III of Castile did the same in 1248 AD. The city especially prospered during the time of New World discoveries because it served as a port for colonial trade until the 18th century.

Seeped in history and story, Seville is close to the port where Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World, and it is also home of the legendary fictional character, "Don Juan" who left to ...

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