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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Louisiana Tech chapter.

Living differently than others isn’t bad. Everyone’s on their own paths. Some get married early, some graduate later in life, and some never go to school or get married. Whatever happens, don’t put yourself down for it or compare yourself to others. You aren’t doing life wrong. There isn’t a way to do life wrong because everyone is unique and has the right to enjoy their life no matter what it looks like.

I recently remembered a book I read my senior year in high school that I want to explain to you all. (Sorry if it’s too many spoilers.) The book is called Small Damages by Beth Kephart. It’s one of those not so random books that you find on the library shelf and think to yourself, “Hey, this looks kind of good.” In fact, it was probably one of the best books I’ve ever read.

oranges in a bowl
Photo by Maggie Jaszowska from Unsplash
The description of the book on the back says, 

“It’s senior year, and while Kenzie should be looking forward to prom and starting college in the fall, she is mourning the loss of her father. She finds solace in the one person she trusts, her boyfriend, and she soon finds herself pregnant. Kenzie’s boyfriend and mother do not understand her determination to keep the baby. She is sent to southern Spain for the summer, where she will live out her pregnancy as a cook’s assistant on a bull ranch, and her baby will be adopted by a Spanish couple.

Alone and resentful in a foreign country, Kenzie is at first sullen and difficult. She begins to open her eyes and her heart to the beauty that is all around her, and inside of her. Kenzie realizes she has some serious choices to make – choices about life, love, and home.”

spain streets pretty
Photo by Jonas Hoss from Unsplash
It’s a coming-of-age book that looks deep into the ups and downs, the doubts and the confidences, and it’s full of bright illustrations of another culture and atmosphere. Sometimes it’s hard to understand what someone is going through if you haven’t gone through it yourself, but it’s also really hard to understand, comprehend, and know how to cope with something that’s happening to you if it’s never happened to you before.

In the beginning, Kenzie seems to have it all, and then everything seems to fall apart. I can’t imagine having a parent die at a young age. I can’t understand having a baby as a teenager. I’m past the teenage years so I’ll never have to experience it myself, but I think it’s wise to learn and sympathize with others who have been through things you haven’t. It helps us as humans with compassion and giving our time to help others even if it’s only with encouraging words. A small conversation can mean a lot more than you might think.

having and loving a baby
Photo by Omar Lopez from Unsplash
The cook was mean in the beginning or at least seemed mean. I can only imagine being in the shoes of someone who is sent off to another country against her will because she’s a minor and doesn’t have a say in her mom’s decisions, then becomes a slave and a prisoner. She has to help the cook all the time, and she lives somewhere that wasn’t her choice. No one talks to her at first. Kenzie feels alone and abandoned by the people she cared about. That’s got to be tough because the people you care about are supposed to be the people that always stick with you.

I’m not going to tell you everything that happens, 1) because I can’t remember it all (I haven’t read it in three years), and 2) because I want you to take a look for yourself at this literary masterpiece of coming to love and accept yourself for who you are along with the decisions you’ve made. I remember crying a lot. You may or may not cry, but it’s still an amazing time well spent!

The last thing to come to grips with and remember about this book is that it’s for ALL AGES (13+ because of the complexity of the situation and the extensive, scholarly language). I got my grandmother to read it and she loved it and said she couldn’t put it down! I hope you take a look at your local library and find the time to give this a read. Not for me, but for you and for the people you’ll come into contact with throughout your life that has been through things you couldn’t begin to understand unless you educate yourself first.

Mandy Parker

Louisiana Tech '23

I'm a sophomore majoring in sociology. I just want to help people wherever I can. Tomorrow is never promised, so I live for the moments we have now.
As a little girl, I spent hours writing stories. Obviously they weren't exactly bestsellers, but it was my passion nevertheless. I would fill up my notebooks with everything I didn't know how to say out loud, and anything I could imagine. Now, as a college student, I'm chasing my dream one word at a time. I'm currently studying English and Marketing, with the intention of becoming an editor.