“Maybe there are differences between us -socioeconomic, political, racial- but that doesn’t mean we cannot connect, human to human, friend to friend.”
-Ruth Jefferson, Small Great Things
Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, (General) Adult
Number of Pages: 480 [Hardcover]
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” -Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jodi Picoult is my all-time favorite author for a reason – her novels have social relevance. Each and every book she has released tackles a social issue, which compels her readers to reflect and critically think about what is right, what is wrong, what could you have done, was it justified, and what have you.
In Small Great Things, Picoult finally brings up racism – a theme that couldn’t have come at a better time. The book itself sends out a strong message and social commentary, and this may just be Picoult’s most relevant and important book yet.
Aside from the theme, I love the other elements, too. If you’ve read every Picoult book out there -like me-, you already know what you’re getting: brilliant (and smart) writing with a keen eye for detail, complex characters, well-researched topics (we’ve got all-new medical terms!), and of course – the courtroom! Now, the courtroom action here isn’t as nitty-gritty and long like the ones we’ve ~experienced~ in her previous novels, but still, after quite a few years of not writing about the courtroom, it is so refreshing to have it back.
Small Great Things is a powerful book, my best read in 2016 (this is my 132nd read this year, so that’s saying something), and is now my most recommended Picoult novel. I highly encourage everyone to please read this book until the end – up to the Author’s Note and Bibliography.