I started reading ‘Small Great Things’ by Jodi Picoult over New Years’ eve! Yes, the introvert in me admits that I wasn’t out partying that night! I started this book outside on our patio that evening while we had a family BBQ going on, and I could not put this book down! #pageturner
Read the synopsis below and my thoughts, to see if this is a book that would pique your interest as well.
Ruth Jefferson is an African-American labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with over 20 years of experience. She is shocked when a white supremacist couple refuses to let Ruth touch and care for their new-born baby.
The hospital complies with their request, but when the baby stops breathing, Ruth is the only person in the room. Should she intervene or obey orders?
Ruth hesitates before deciding her course of action and is consequently charged with a serious crime.
This is an exciting, thought-provoking story with the court room drama moving at a steady pace. Picoult takes on the issue of racism partly inspired by the discrimination law suit in Michigan in 2012. Read about that here. At the heart of the story, is the question of power, privilege, race and compassion. It explores how racism can impede successes in society and the power that is attributed to people of lighter skin.
The author tells the story from three perspectives. From Ruth, the African-American nurse, the public defender, Kennedy McQuarrie and the white supremacist father, Turk Bauer.
The characters are richly layered and have depth and dimension. When I first started reading about Turk (the father), there was instant hate. But then Picoult tells us about his past and takes us on his journey with his wife. We come to know about events that transpired in his life and the reasons for his anger and hate.
The relationship between Ruth and Kennedy is nicely explored as well. Over the course of the book, they develop trust and hope and come to terms with their own beliefs and convictions.
One of the question this book brings to mind with Kennedy’s character, is that often we think we are not racists in the real sense of the word. We think we are open-minded, not prejudiced, and completely unbiased. Yet, some of the successes that white people have had, is because people of color have not had it.
Picoult’s writing is as always engaging, and with every page, the story unfolds brilliantly. Writing a gripping court room scene is definitely her forte. This is one of Picoult’s well crafted novel’s and I would definitely recommend it.
There has been some criticism for this book, claiming it was not Picoult’s story to tell and how she oversimplified a complex issue. The truth is that racism weighs heavily on so many hearts in our society. It is a moral dilemma and we need to expand our thoughts and conversations surrounding this.
As always I’ll leave you from my favorite quotes from this book.
“If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s that friendship is a smoke screen. The people you think are solid turn out to be mirrors and light; and then you look down and realize there are others you took for granted, those who are your foundation.”
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” (Attributed to Martin Luther King). Incidentally this is where the title of the book also comes from.
Until next time. Happy Reading!