Little Sacrifices is a surprising and intriguing story of growing up and trying to fit in. Set in Savannah in 1947, the story follows May Powell's move from Massachusetts to Georgia and the accompanying shift in culture, ideas and traditions that the family faces as they try to adjust to their new home. Set before the Civil Rights movement took off, Little Sacrifices is much more then a coming of age tale and I found it an interesting historical read. Jamie Scott adds a further historical dimension, set in 1917 through the diaries and letters of seventeen year old Mirabelle which May finds in the attic of her new home.
Mirabelle's story runs in parallel to May's throughout the book and there is much more to the tale than May initially realises. I liked the extra dimension that the diaries and letters added to the story and the similarities between May and Mirabelle but I was surprised that Mirabelle's story wasn't written in a first person narrative as extracts from her diaries letters.
The novel is narrated by May from a future point which makes for an interesting style and it did take me a little while to get used to her `voice' as although the story focuses on May's youth, her narrative is from a mature viewpoint. As I got further into the story, I enjoyed the perspective `future' May was able to give and I loved that there was a detailed epilogue to the book that told me what happened next to the key characters - it gave a lovely sense of closure to the story. The `mature' feel to the narrative makes this an ideal crossover book; this is a novel that has no problems crossing the boundaries between adult and young adult audiences.
There are a lot of themes in Little Sacrifices; friendship, prejudice, trust, love, parenthood, beliefs and growing up are all examined and at times I did feel that some of the serious issues that the novel tackles weren't really debated in depth. Nevertheless, this is a gripping story and takes place against a backdrop of major change for residents of the southern states. Scott personalises the story nicely and May and Mirabelle's stories both captured my attention; I like a novel that surprises me and this one did in its outcome and the breadth of issues tackled.
Southern traditions really interest me so these parts of the novel captured my attention; I loved the detail of how etiquette and the famous `southern hospitality' was passed from parents to children via a complex set of rules and social events. The historical detail is well researched and fascinating and it's clear that Jamie Scott has taken time to provide a detailed look at segregation and its impacts and along with May, I learned a lot as I read. I enjoyed the way that significant historical details were woven into a relatable story about true friendships and growing up.
Although I didn't agree with all of May's actions, I did like her and I found her development as a character interesting, particularly as she struggles to reconcile her parents' strongly held beliefs with those of her classmates and her desire to fit in and be accepted. May's two key new friends in Savannah; Jim and Fie were my favourite characters and Jim's story in particular added a nice element of mystery to the book as he finds out more about his family and past. Little Sacrifices is an original, heartfelt and thought-provoking read and I look forward to reading more of Jamie Scott's writing in future.