Emmott Syddall wants nothing more than to leave her small town and move to London. She does not want to become another dead Syddall buried in the small Eyam cemetery. Emmott make plans to move to London with her boyfriend, Roland right before her 18th birthday. However, before she can get out of Eyam, her neighbors begin dying. At first, it looks like a weird flu, but no one really knows, and then, Eyam is quarantined. There is no leaving, the exits are surrounded by military patrol. Relief workers in yellow haz-mat suits flood the town and begin asking questions. No one wants to go out and about or interact with anyone else. Except for Emmott, who just wants to escape and her father, who just wants to help his neighbors. Emmott's mind begins to change about leaving when a suited up relief worker named Aiden begins visiting.
The Smallest Thing is a creative re-imagining of the self-imposed quarantine of the village of Eyam in the 1660's due to the plague. At that point in time, the villagers of Eyam were seen as selfless, heroic- allowing the plague to ravage them, saving countless others. In modern times, with social media and aggressive TV reporters, the town is a spectacle, the victims are no more than statistics. Emmott is very easy to identify with, restless and burgeoning on adulthood, her story is one of growth and finding her place. I enjoyed watching her change her opinion of her father from a fearful man who is tying her down, to a hero who allowed her to grow. The virus also interested me, this was not just a resurgence of the plague, but something unknown, brought about possibly by climate change and increased human movement. The romance in this felt just right, not rushed, not insta-love, but definitely intensified by the situation. If not for the fact that it was a haz-mat suit, the fact that Emmott saw nothing but Aiden's eyes felt almost exotic their connection was based on something deeper than physical attraction when Emmott wants nothing more than to connect with someone. Overall, a heartfelt story of devastation and how a community can pull through.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.