Blog Tour: The Smallest Thing by Lisa Manterfield (Review & Giveaway!)

The Smallest Thing 
Lisa Manterfield
Publication date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

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.

The science nerd in me has always been fascinated by plagues. So when I caught wind that Lisa Manterfield's The Smallest Thing was inspired by the plague that wrecked havoc on Eyam, I was intrigued. I was curious to see how she gave this historical story a modern twist through the eyes of modern day teenager. The end result? I wasn't disappointed one bit. Harrowing, intense, and compelling, The Smallest Thing is a book focuses not only on how tragedy effects us inside and out but also on how hope and humanity are possibility two of the most important qualities to possess.

The Smallest Thing introduces us to Emmott Syddall, a 17-year-old who can't wait to escape her suffocating and dull small hometown. Emmott dreams of a big, rewarding life in London, laced onto the arm of her boyfriend Ro. The only person standing in her way? Her father. He doesn't want her to leave, especially with a boy like Ro. Emmott, however, is determined. She has her bags packed and ready to go. However, her plans are soon ruined when her town's residents start dying left and right. At first everyone thinks it's a rare occurrence - most of them are old - however as the deaths start pilling up and the people dying keep getting younger and healthier, everyone knows that something is amiss. Soon the government comes in, quarantining the entire town, leaving Emmott completely  stuck in the one place she dislikes the most...Emmott knows she has to leave, has to escape, especially before this illness, this plague hits her, but will she make it out in time and unscathed?

Emmott is a character I think any one - old or young - can easily relate to, because we've all been there before, wanting to get out of the town we've always known, knowing that the only way to spread our wings is to go into the unknown.

As someone who's grew up in a small town with the same people day-in-and-day-out, I, for one, found it incredibly easy to relate to Em. I easily understood her frustrations, her desire for new and unknown, and the chance to do just that with someone think she's loves.

I especially admired her determination regarding this - she's one girl who knows what she wants and will do anything to get there. Over the course of the book, however, we see a new Em in some respects - she goes from someone who's so quick to leave to someone who begins to wonder how she can leave the people she loves the most - her dad, her best friend, even the boy she just meet - behind when their respective futures are so incredibly up in the air. She also begins to see people, especially her dad, in a new light - seeing that maybe a strong, tight community isn't the worst thing, and that her dad, bless his heart, is the town spokesperson because, really, he doesn't now how not to be one.

I loved seeing this change in Emmott, seeing her go from this one way of thinking type of person to someone who sees the whole word in a 3D view...it brought incredible growth for her character and it was a rewarding process to see. However, I will admit my heart ached incredibly bad when it took bad situations turned worse to really drive certain points home.

As for the plot, I thought Lisa did a fantastic job of creating the plague related storyline as well as ultimately making this book a coming-of-age at its heart. While I don't know everything there is to known about plagues, I feel that Lisa did an accurate job of portraying once, especially regarding the timelines given as well as the tent system set up. She also did a great job of using the plague to build up this uncertain yet addictive quality to the story lines...I was always dying to know what would happen next, especially in regard to when the plague would end. What I also enjoyed about the The Smallest Thing, was that it didn't include much romance (I know that's a surprise right?!). It left more time for character development and growth as well as for plot development, and the story truly managed to benefit from it. I loved seeing Em become this kick-a$$ main character, who doesn't necessarily need a man to reach her dreams.

The ending, though, broke my heart into a million pieces. Some parts of me was expecting Lisa to go to certain places there, but still, I was 100% shook when my predictions did come true. However, it really managed to drive certain points home and make this story incredibly worth reading.

In all, The Smallest Thing is an compelling look at how one plague can change one girl's life. I highly suggest this one to those who love character driven stories with the addition of some suspense and drama.

Grade: B+ 

Source: eARC provided by Author/publicist for blog tour

Buy Links:

Author Bio: 
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. Learn more at LisaManterfield.com. 



  1. I'm also from a very small town so I'd likely enjoy this book and relate to Em as well! This sounds like a great read! :)

  2. Oooh, this sounds good! I like disaster stories, so this fits in with whole plague thing, and I like how it focuses on one girl and how it affects her. Great review!

  3. he Smallest Thing sounds great! Thank you for your review.

  4. I think this sounds like something I would enjoy. I have also always been interested in plagues and disasters and this premise sounds really good. Great review!

  5. What a fascinating premise! (One of my favorite novels is about a plague.)

  6. Fabulous review! I really enjoyed reading it! This book sounds like such an interesting and intriguing read! Looking forward to checking it out!


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