Publisher: Steel Rose Press
*Publisher approved request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Smallest Thing is a really good story. It had my attention locked from start. The writing is just wonderful, and the overall mystery regarding what was causing members of the village to fall sick, some dying soon after, had me intrigued.
I liked that this was inspired by a real life event, one that I had no idea about until reading the blurb, but I'm glad the author was able to deliver the story in such a way that I actually felt like I was there in every moment, experiencing this devastation.
What I also liked is how there were other aspects to the story and it wasn't just about the plague. Emmott's character, for instance, was coming-of-age and she wanted to get out into the world and live her life her way. She had these big plans and dreamed of leaving the village, as opposed to remaining "stuck" there like her father and ancestors. Emmott dreaded living under her father's strictness, which was understandable, because he often came off so hard and inconsiderate toward his daughter, many times saying things that hurt her feelings or made her feel ignored. Their relationship, or lack thereof, was definitely tense for the most part. In one particular scene, he yelled at Emmott for being with a certain character that I never liked from the get-go, but the way he handled it was so heartbreaking, especially as a father. I guess he didn't know better, and Emmott's mother wasn't exactly there either. She was another story all to herself and while some details were revealed about her and the marital issues with Emmott's father, I was okay with her not being in the village while everything was taking place because then too much would be going on.
Going back to Emmott's character, I must say that I did find her to be selfish and impulsive at times, wanting to disregard rules and risk spreading the plague elsewhere, but then I would remind myself that this was a teen girl just starting to figure out her life, and had to quickly learn to cope in an adult way if she was going to be able to survive. Not sure how I'd fare in a similar situation but I feel like Emmott did her best, especially toward the end of the story. And I liked how in the midst of the plague and with the entire village being placed in quarantine, Emmott was able to bond with someone who genuinely cared for her, even if for every encounter an hazmat suit was always between them. I found that to be quite interesting in itself, and it offered a bit of sweetness in such a sad time.
Again, great story with remarkable writing. And although the ending broke my heart, I almost expected that to happen and I'm okay with the way things turned out. This is my first time reading a book by Lisa Manterfield and I must say I'm impressed by her storytelling. I'll definitely be checking out her other releases.