The very last thing 17-year-old Emmott Syddall wants is to turn out like her dad. She’s descended from ten generations who never left their dull English village, and there’s no way she’s going to waste a perfectly good life that way. She’s moving to London and she swears she is never coming back.
But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors force the government to quarantine the village, Em learns what it truly means to be trapped. Now, she must choose. Will she pursue her desire for freedom, at all costs, or do what’s best for the people she loves: her dad, her best friend Deb, and, to her surprise, the mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit?
Inspired by the historical story of the plague village of Eyam, this contemporary tale of friendship, community, and impossible love weaves the horrors of recent news headlines with the intimate details of how it feels to become an adult—and fall in love—in the midst of tragedy.
Inspired by the actual plague in the 1600s, this contemporary story is filled with heart, fear, and the fighting spirit of a seventeen-year-old girl, anxious to escape her tiny English village. Emmott Syddall wants nothing more than to get away from the small village she fears will smother her, where she’ll be just one more Syddall buried in the village cemetery. Planning a future in London with her boyfriend, Ro, she and her father butt heads, their relationship strained as she prepares to leave. But before she has the opportunity, one-by-one, her neighbors become ill with a mysterious, lethal virus, requiring the town to be quarantined. Emmott’s sense of isolation only grows more powerful as she’s confined to her small village and the streets fill with bio-suit-clad healthcare workers. As more and more people she’s known her entire life succumb to the illness, Emmott begins to evaluate what really matters in life. One young aid worker, Aidan, takes a particular interest in Emmott and suddenly life isn’t quite so dull. But when the people closest to her are stricken, she’s forced to make choices she never imagined.
The story was well-plotted, but the pacing was slow in several spots. To the point that I ended up skimming some sections. However, the writing is elegant and filled with unique metaphors and similes that paint vibrant pictures and bring imaginary characters to technicolor life. The subject matter is serious and the author treats it with respect, not providing easy outs for anyone. She forces painful situations upon her protagonist and watches to see how the flawed Emmott will respond. The story is believable, at times heart wrenching, but all the more authentic for those difficult scenes.
The story is really about Emmott’s relationship with her father, and those two characters shine. Emmott is complex and a bit immature, but quickly rises to the challenges, that circumstances beyond her control, have thrust upon her. She may not always make the right choices (okay most of the time), but her mistakes lead to logical consequences that force her to grow up rather quickly. Her dad is amazing. He’s the village cheerleader, risking his own health to check on neighbors. He is true to himself throughout, his character rock solid, but through Emmott’s eyes we see who he’s always been evolve as she finally comes to understand him.
What I Enjoyed About THE SMALLEST THING
1. Emmott. She’s a rebel with a heart. I love her growth through the story. She takes two steps forward, and one step back, sometimes two steps, or even three, but she arrives at her destination exactly when she’s supposed to.
2. Setting. The small English village is as charming on the pages as it is on the cover. But it’s more than just the setting, it’s also a starring character in the story.
3. Reality. Nothing is sugar coated. A deadly virus in a small town leaves no one untouched.
4. Characters. The characters are well-developed, fully-dimensional, and are the heart and soul of the story.
Beautiful writing and a heartfelt tale about a teen girl dealing with tragic events in her small English village.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: THE SMALLEST THING
Author: Lisa Manterfield
Publisher: Steel Rose Press
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Category: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
About the Author
Lisa Manterfield is the award-winning author of I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. Her work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Los Angeles Times, and Psychology Today. Originally from northern England, she now lives in Southern California with her husband and over-indulged cat. A Strange Companion is her first novel.
Where to Find Megan Carney
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Great review! This sounds right up my alley! I love these kinds of though provoking stories – they show how society would react to such an event and if well done it can really be eye opening and compelling! Emmott also sounds like a well written character! Glad you liked it! 🙂
I really, really enjoyed this book, and was particularly fascinated by the real-life history of Eyam. Yes, Emmott has plenty of growing up to do, but the acute situation she finds herself in is gripping stuff. I found myself wondering what decisions I would make, if faced with the same dilemmas, and am looking forward to more from this author.
I believe she has another book out. I’m going to check it out. I absolutely love her writing style.
Thank you so much for this thoughtful review and your kind words. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the story and stuck with Emmott and her flaws until she figured it all out. I’d be more than happy to get a review copy of A Strange Companion to you (another flawed and badly behaved character!
I’d love to read A STRANGE COMPANION! Thank you so much for the offer.