Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

on October 11th 2016
Narrator: Ari Fliakos, Audra McDonald, Cassandra Campbell
Small Great Things Book Cover Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult
Historical Fiction
Ballantine Books
October 11th, 2016
audiobook
480

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.

I found this book very moving and very thought provoking. I applaud the author for tacking such a topic. Racism in a professional environment is something that many people deal with but often find very little allies when a major situation arises. I don’t want to rehash the blurb because it was clear on the book subject.

I couldn’t put this book down once I started because it was so real especially in this current racially charged environment. I just hope that readers don’t get caught up in the minutiae of the author’s race and really let the message penetrate.
What made the story so powerful was that each character had major flaws and had opportunities to make different choices. I found myself saying “Why did he do that? Why did she say that? What was the point of going over there?” and so on. The insidiousness of racism and the far-reaching consequences to all involved. I found this book painful at times but it is a very necessary read because the problems in the book are still present in society today. I both liked and disliked Ruth and her attorney throughout the book. I mostly despised Turk but I realize that his behavior had been instilled in him at such a young and impressionable age. I have little tolerance for racists so empathy towards Turk is something I didn’t have much of. White privilege is something that many people refuse to acknowledge and that was at the heart of this story.
I wish the twists weren’t so convoluted and dramatic. Even with those extreme leaps in the story, I highly recommend this book to all who are willing to examine their own hearts about race relations in our world today.

Ezi

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