My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Random House Canada
Publication Date: October 11th, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Point of View: 1st Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Racism, Law, Family
Buy: Book Depository
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.
Look up at the dark sky. See those stars? They all belong to Small Great Things.
The Small Great Things at the end is not the same Small Great Things it is at the beginning, meaning that so much is happening, so much is revealed that there’s no way to read the first chapter and predict the rest of the story.
Small Great Things has come a long way. So has Kennedy. So has Turk. So has Ruth. So has Edison. So has the world.
That’s how it should be. Doesn’t mean though, that we’re at the finish line yet. Small Great Things definitely proves that we aren’t.
Jodi Picoult’s new book didn’t make me realize how naïve I was—Michelle Alexander did with her talk on mass incarceration in the US. But while my eyes were wide due to Alexander’s revelatory comments on today’s caste system, this book opened them even wider thanks to Ruth’s honesty, Kennedy’s character-development and Turk’s sole existence.
There are some scenes in this book that seem ‘‘too good to be true,’’ especially the ones related to Adele and the judge at the end, but it doesn’t make the subject of racism less authentically dealt with.
Of course, this book made me angry… and that’s good. This means what happened to Ruth affected me. It’s unjust. It’s unfair. It’s inhumane. But what’s surprising is, though I completely hated Turk for suing Ruth, I still questioned whether Ruth was right to hesitate, and whether Turk was redeemable, and whether someone else beside Ruth should have been blamed.
We should question situations. It’s not because something seems completely wrong to us that we shouldn’t dig deeper on the subject; consider someone else’s opinion on the matter, which is why I’m so happy with the fact that this book is narrated by Ruth, Kennedy AND Turk.
A truly impressive story with great attention to detail and incredibly intense scenes at court.
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