Best-selling author Jodi Picoult, famous for My Sisters Keeper and Nineteen Minutes among others, is back at it with a book about race, white supremacy, and understanding the shades of gray we all live within.
Ruth is a nurse at Mercy-West Haven hospital, the only black nurse in the hospital, and has been doing her job for twenty years. She’s a labor & delivery nurse and makes sure that moms to be are comfortable, babies are taken care of, and crises are averted. Her life is thrown into turmoil when she goes to care for little baby Davis Bauer, only a day old, and finds that this innocent little boy is the son of two White Supremacists who insist that Ruth is prohibited from caring for their son. This is an affront to Ruth of course, who knows she can do her job well and bristles at the obvious racism, but things really heat up when Davis Bauer stops breathing, and the only nurse around is Ruth. Does she defy the orders of the family, and her supervisor, or does she listen and wait for someone else to come? That hesitation could mean life or death for baby Davis. Now, facing murder charges, Ruth is thrust into the spotlight and into a world she never expected to encounter. Her white public defender, Kennedy, just doesn’t get her, and her honor roll son Edison is acting out in his own ways. This fascinating book takes us through not only the journey of a trial but the journey of three distinct characters who are forced to reckon with the racism around us and the racism within us. Jodi Picoult, though as white as they come, does justice to the issue at hand and delivers a book that you won’t be able to put down!
Personally, I love Jodi Picoult books because she writes from distinct points of view, and not all of them are favorable characters. It’s easy to write from the point of view of the protagonist and her lover or her lawyer or her son or her mother, but it’s a lot harder to write from the point of view of a White Supremacist. But Picoult is able to do it, because she does her research, makes real-world connections, and is an absolute star in this field. In Small Great Things, we get the points of view of Ruth, her lawyer Kennedy, and Davis Bauer’s White Supremacist father, Turk Bauer.
Jodi Picoult is great at introducing shocking twists and turns into her books, and Small Great Things has them in spades. Medical reports, biological evidence, witness testimony, and a stunning epilogue set six years later will keep you turning pages and unable to put the book down until you’re completely finished.
If you love real world issues being played out in a fictional world, look no further. This book came out last October, and I’ve been anxious about reading it because I was afraid it was going to be a little heavy-handed, but I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this book! I always love Jodi Picoult, and the fact that this entire book was set in my college town was a nice little surprise!
Also, on a bonus note, I found out while writing this review that Small Great Things is going to be made into a movie staring Viola Davis and Julia Roberts! I think Viola Davis is going to make an AMAZING Ruth, and I can’t wait to see her portrayal! I think Tom Hardy would be an awesome Turk Bauer, even if he is a little bit older than Turk is supposed to be.
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