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.
Praise for The Smallest Thing
"Lisa Manterfield’s richly detailed novel...is graced with themes of self-sacrifice, the power of human touch, and the need to act in the face of horror." ~ Catherine Linka, author of A Girl Called Fearless
Customer ReviewsSee All
Wow! Excellent - So Much to Chew On
In 1665 a tailor in the small English town of Eyam bought a bolt of cloth in London and inadvertently brought the bubonic plague back with him. The town made the decision to quarantine themselves to prevent the deadly disease from spreading to surrounding communities, but lost 260 people before the virus burned out.
This real life story was the inspiration for Lisa Manterfield's novel, set in present time Eyam, where rebellious, almost-18-year-old Emmott wants nothing more than to leave the town where ten generations of her family have lived. With her birthday a month away, she's planning her escape to London, when people suddenly start falling ill, and then the entire town is quarantined.
Life becomes more and more restricted, and Emmott learns hard lessons about herself, her family, and who she can really count on as the situation spirals out of control.
Manterfield's novel combines elements of suspense, and romance, and has an almost science fiction flavor, without actually being sci-fi. She does an amazing job of imagining what would happen in today's world if a deadly, unknown virus started killing people in a small town, the way the Bubonic plague did in 1665.
How would people react to the idea of being quarantined? Some people would probably be for the idea, others wouldn't understand it and would try to escape.
How would people react to long periods of time without close human contact, having to stay apart from each other?
How would they react to losing so many neighbors?
All of these things Manterfield addresses with great skill and sensitivity through Emmott's eyes as narrator.
Be sure to have a box of tissues handy, as you may need them!