Description: 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 have read a few of Jodi Picoult’s novel and she never ceases to amaze me. With Small Great Things, Picoult creates an extremely relevant and plausible story exploring race, privilege, and prejudice. With so many stories currently in the news about racial injustice, this is a timely book, just released on October 11th, that really explores the depth of our prejudices and how ingrained they might be.
The shifting perspectives throughout the book were key to the authenticity of this novel. Going from a chapter from Turk’s white supremacist perspective to a chapter from Ruth’s point of view is what made this book relevant. Had the novel been told entirely from the viewpoint of one narrator, it would’ve been biased. Capturing the emotions and beliefs of each of the characters provided the opportunity for this dialogue in a way that our own society has yet to manage.
The African American nurse Ruth who was embroiled in the legal battle was incredibly fascinating, particularly because she did everything “right” in the racial/societal sense. She studied hard, graduated college, became a nurse, and even lived in a white neighborhood. Yet, when all was said and done it came down to the color of her skin and while it is a reality of our world, it was still surprising.
Jodi Picoult did an amazing job capturing this critical issue and in this case, it was also quite clear what the underlying problems were. However, I do hope that cases stop being lumped together and people start to see each individual scenario for what it is.
About the Author:
Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-three novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. http://www.jodipicoult.com/
*I received this ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.