Book Review: Small Great Things

Book Review: Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things
by Jodi Picoult
on October 11th 2016
Pages: 470
Published by Ballantine Books
Genres: Literary Fiction, Multicultural

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

 My Takeaway 
“You say you don’t see color…but that’s all you see. You’re so hyper aware of it, and of trying to look like you aren’t prejudiced, you can’t even understand that when you say race doesn’t matter all I hear is you dismissing what I’ve felt, what I’ve lived, what it’s like to be put down because of the color of my skin.” Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things
Though racial tensions have always existed in the United States, it has drastically increased after the Presidential election. We are currently facing an exacerbated amount of racial tension and Small Great Things, deals with many of these challenging issues head on. Incredibly, this is my first Jodi Picoult novel (yeah, I know, I know) and I will definitely be adding more of her books to my bookshelf. Small Great Things, made me angry, sad, laugh, and yes, cry (more than once). I had to put the book down more than once and reflect on what I had just read. At times the story was difficult, uncomfortable, disturbing and upsetting, but also humorous, empathetic and with reflective moments. It is authentic, well-written and quite moving. The book centers around Ruth Jefferson, an African American nurse accused of a horrible crime. Who accused her? White supremacist parents of a newborn boy. Small Great Things, will make you reflect on race, discrimination, biases and prejudice – all difficult topics to discuss. This is a particularly useful book for reading clubs (that’s where I learned of it). I highly recommend it and believe it can be useful and inspiring to start a conversation about race. The author has a great deal of resources and reading club guides on her website. So go and get yourself a copy (movie rights already bought). I promise, you will not regret it and it will move you in a way you did not expect.

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