Jamie Scott’s Little Sacrifices takes its fifteen-year-old protagonist, May, from the North States to the South in 1947, landing her in a beautifully evocative Savannah, Georgia, where the air is “humid and strong with the smell of green things” and the pace of life is “like a long exhale.” Suddenly there are black people everywhere and May's parents struggle to balance their Northern sensitivities with providing a living for their maid and remaining convinced no-one should need to be waited on. May makes friends with her next door neighbor, struggles to achieve her dream of being popular, and wishes her parents' subdued activism wasn't so embarrassing. Two stories intertwine in this novel, with modern progress finding itself reflected in the past. Coming out of an earlier war, another woman loved, longed, and failed to communicate, just as May might now. Injustice in its many different flavors is tied to a past and present ways of life. Meanwhile May’s parents, advocating civil rights too soon for their neighbors' sensibilities, will need all the love that unites them as they face the violent rejection of their un-churched beliefs. May’s coming of age is convincingly portrayed, the innocent eagerness of youth giving way to thoughtful understanding as ideals take root. Savannah Georgia’s larger past intertwines with small family betrayals, a search for roots, and, finally, a recognition of other people’s roots. Told in first person, May’s reminiscences captivate, her folly annoys, and her determination inspires. Change is possible after all. Hope is real. And the future is built on the past. I haven’t read The Help yet though I enjoyed the movie. If Little Sacrifices is ever made into a movie I’ll enjoy that too. Meanwhile I’m really glad to have read this book, smoothly written, convincingly told, accurately researched, and pleasingly thought-provoking as it follows a year in a young girl’s life and a lifetime in maturity.
Disclosure: I received an ecopy of this novel from the author and promised an honest review. I honestly loved it.