The Smallest Thing
By Lisa Manterfield
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.
Category: Upper Young Adult Fiction
Publication: July 18, 2017
Size: 5.25 x 8.00 in.
Binding: Perfect Bound
Publisher: Steel Rose Press
Purchase Links (non-affiliate)
Goodreads info, click here.
Meet Lisa Manterfield
She is the award-winning author of A Strange Companion and I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. Her latest novel, The Smallest Thing, came out July 18th. Originally from northern England, she now lives in Southern California with her husband and over-indulged cat. Find out more at LisaManterfield.com.
Could You Be a Hero? One Author Says Yes
You’ve seen them on your newsfeed, those ordinary people who perform heroic acts. They are passersby who pull victims away from danger, petite mothers who find superhuman strength to lift an SUV off a trapped toddler, and Good Samaritans who offer care and encouragement to a stranger until emergency services arrive at the scene. And maybe you wonder, if that was me, would I have done the same? Would I have put my own safety before that of a stranger? If the situation called for it, could I be a hero?
Thankfully, most of us will never find ourselves in the midst of tragedy and be forced to answer to those questions. But the scenario makes for good fiction: a character who has no desire to be a hero, but who finds herself in a situation that forces her to acknowledge what sort of person she really is. When her life and the lives of people she loves are in danger, will she save herself, even if it endangers others, or will she discover a side of her personality that she never knew existed?
It’s the question I pose in my latest novel, The Smallest Thing, the story of a young woman on the brink of leaving her dull English village to start her real life, who finds herself trapped there by a government-imposed quarantine. She must decide whether to try to save herself, or do what’s right for the people she loves. Only when faced with unimaginable tragedy, does she get to know her true self.
While working on the novel, I read a fascinating book by Sebastian Junger. In Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Junger explores human behavior in times of war and disaster. In one particular chapter he explores the roles people assume during times of high stress. There are those who take on the role of active leader. They dig victims from rubble, devise means of escape, and even put their own lives at risk for the chance to save someone else’s. There’s also another important group that arises. They are the empathetic leaders. They administer care, they rally victims and keep moral high, and they save lives by instilling the will to live in others, even when their own futures look grim. Junger concludes that this second group is equally heroic and just as important to ultimate survival.
The thing I found most fascinating about the book is that Junger concludes that neither of these groups of heroes are oddities, and that most of us are wired, ultimately, to thrive during tragedy, to pull together for the greater good. We saw it in this country during and after 9/11, we saw it when Hurricane Katrina struck. In fact, we see it every day, in the news and around us, if only we look for it. Sometimes the acts of kindness are heroic and sometimes they are small and seemingly insignificant. But if you’ve ever called a grandparent “just because” or sent flowers to a friend who’s going through a rough time or helped a neighbor who’s sick, you know that even the smallest gesture of kindness can seem heroic to someone who needs it.
I hope that none of us will ever have to discover what sort of hero we are, but it gives me comfort to know that the ability to be a good human is hard-wired into us, so that, when the call comes, we’ll discover who we really are.
Giveaway info here.
Check out Lisa’s kick off post here.
July 18: Interview with Rebecca Lacko
July 19: Guest Post at A New Look on Books
July 20: Interview with Heather Sunseri
July 21: Interview at Booked for Review
July 22: Interview with Michael Raymond
July 23: Interview with Farah Oomerbhoy
July 24: Review by Mixed Bag Mama
July 25: Guest Post at History in the Margins with Pamela Toler
July 26: Review at YA Book Divas
July 27: Review at The Reading Wolf
July 28: Review at For the Novel Lovers