ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) to be released July 19, 2012. Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers). 304 pp.
Kaitlin is in her senior year of high school, has a boyfriend she adores, college plans, and a close knit group of friends with whom she can hang out with on a daily basis. Her dad died suddenly and she doesn’t get along with her mother, but Kevin helps her through both the good and the bad. He sings a different song, however, when he gets her pregnant as both he and her mother want her to get rid of “it” so they can live their lives. Early on in her pregnancy, Kaitlin feels the love of motherhood for her unborn child and insists on keeping it. As a result, she is shipped off to Spain to spend 5 months of her life on a ranch with a family she’s never met, with the goal of giving her baby up for adoption to a Spanish family before she can return home.
I had mixed feelings as I read because I felt there were too many characters with complicated stories to tell, while Kephart seemed bound and determined to also infuse every single detail about Spain, its history, and its people into these stories. In addition, Beth’s use of flashbacks to tell most of these stories often took away from a sense of continuity. However, the ending was quite emotional and allowed me to almost forget what I had to “plow through” to get to it.
Thus, I will leave it up to high school readers interested in learning more about Spain, gypsies, flamenco and other aspects of its history to decide if they should read “Small Damages” or not.