cover image Small Damages

Small Damages

Beth Kephart. Philomel, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-25748-3

As Kenzie’s senior year of high school begins, her beloved father dies suddenly. Her mother’s coping mechanisms—pack his things, start a business, join Match .com—push Kenzie closer to her friend Kevin, and by spring, she’s pregnant. Kenzie’s mother’s response (which feels more 1896 than 1996, when the story is set) is to arrange for Kenzie to move to a bull farm in southern Spain, where she’ll work until the baby is born and given up for adoption. The wrinkle in this soulless plan is that Kenzie is conflicted; her story is written as a tender, honest letter to her unborn child. Kenzie arrives in Spain sullen and resentful—she’s chopping onions with Estela, the farm’s cook, while her friends are at the Jersey Shore—and the distance brings her predicament into sharp relief. Estela is a better mother than her biological one; Esteban, the teen in charge of horses, a more standup guy than Yale-bound Kevin. This beautifully written “summer of transformation” story will have readers feeling as torn about Kenzie’s choice as she is. Ages 14–up. Agent: Amy Rennert, the Amy Rennert Agency. (July)