Ellison’s debut novel A Small Indiscretion is a fascinating story that showcases how a decision made in adolescence can affect you in the future. I found this to be an interesting concept, which is why I picked up a copy of this novel and read it in a matter of days. A letter written by a mother to her son, the story shifts back and forth over the course of 20 years. It’s an emotional confession filled with truth, love, obsession and forgiveness.
While I appreciated the creativity of this narrative, first-person POV can fall flat as it often did in this novel. The characters are one-dimensional with the exception of Annie, our main character. This is a con when using first-person narrative, but I applaud Ellison for taking on the challenge. Annie’s letter to her son would not have worked as seamlessly in third-person narrative, and readers would not be able to connect with Annie (even she’s the only character we connect with) on a more intimate level.
But really, the timeline was the hardest aspect to dissect. Figuring out the timeline became a primary concern in the beginning of the novel. Once familiarized with the chronology, it became an easy and enjoyable read, but not without some initial confusion.
The book’s most rewarding quality is its beautiful prose. Ellison’s a great storyteller and the novel is filled with highlight-able tidbits and detail:
“I suppose unrequited love is the hardest kind to shed because it is not really love at all. It is a half-love, and we are forever stomping around trying to get hold of the other half.”
Overall, A Small Indiscretion is a fascinating novel and recommended for readers who enjoy exploring marriage, family and love. Even though it’s a little discombobulating at first, Ellison offers insight on how a “small” indiscretion can eventually boil to the surface after buried deep within for many years.