One Small Act of Kindness, by Lucy Dillon

Libby and her husband, Jason, are trying to make the best out of a bad situation when they purchase Jason’s mother’s run down hotel. Soon after taking possession, a young woman, and complete stranger, gets struck by a car outside their new dwelling. Libby, being the kind-hearted soul that she is, stays with the mystery woman until the ambulance arrives. When the young stranger regains consciousness, she – quelle surprise! – has been struck with amnesia and cannot remember her own name, let alone what she was doing outside Libby’s hotel. The only clue to her identity is a small slip of paper in her pocket which has Libby’s name and hotel address scrawled upon it.

So, there’s the meat of the story, as it were; a pretty bog-standard tale, not entirely riveting, but not entirely without merit. However, there were a few things that irritated me about this book that I found hard to get past. The main irritant for me was that the author really does like to state the obvious and hammer home a point until you want to scream at the pages: “Yes! I get it! Libby’s mother in law is overbearing. I get it! That chick has amnesia and is freaked out by it… duh! I get it! Libby is daunted by the task of renovating the hotel on her modest budget! I absolutely get it!

I also think this novel tries too hard to be “oh so 21st century” – within two pages Instagram, Facebook, Facetime and Pinterest have all been mentioned. This rams the modern setting down your throat, but also presents the danger of making the book seem very dated in a few years. Kind of like that Destiny’s Child song Bug a Boo, which talks about the annoying boyfriend paging Beyoncé too often.

Despite lacking subtlety at times, One Small Act of Kindness does have some really interesting and quite unique things going for it as a novel. I enjoyed “The butterfly effect” idea that this book explores, as well as the concept of “it’s nice to be nice”, because it is nice to be nice, after all. What’s more, I found it refreshing to see the female characters (Libby and the mystery woman) developing a supportive, kind relationship – rather than the superficial, catty relationships that can be stereotypical of female characters.

All in all, I enjoyed this book in the same way I enjoy Days of Our Lives – perhaps not the most intellectually stimulating thing in the world, but ultimately satisfying and perhaps, most importantly, entertaining.

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TITLE: One Small Act of Kindness
AUTHOR(S): Lucy Dillon
RRP: $34.99
ISBN: 9781444796025

Chelsea Lee is a twenty-something university dropout. She has a penchant for 80s synth pop. She lives, reluctantly, in Auckland and enjoys the works of miserable existentialists and misanthropes.

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