October 11, 2016
Small Great Things
"It just goes to show you: every baby is born beautiful. It's what we project on them that makes them ugly." ~ 3%
Ruth is an experienced Labor & Delivery nurse that knows just what a new mother needs, be it an epidural or lipstick. She has more than twenty years of experience. Other nurses respect her; doctors appreciate her. So when the parents of a newborn request that Ruth not touch their baby simply because she is black, Ruth is offended and shocked. The hospital complies with the request of the white supremacists.
The very next day, Ruth is alone in the nursery when the newborn baby has a medical emergency. Ruth is faced with a dilemma: disobey orders to save the baby's life and lose her job or do nothing. As a result, Ruth is penalized for following directions. She is charged with a serious crime and her case becomes a media sensation.
"No African American personnel to care for this patient. Each word, it's a bullet." ~ 73%
This novel took me through a literary roller-coaster. I received the galley a couple months ago, read the synopsis and deemed it too heavy to read in the thick of summer. I couldn't bring myself to read about a black nurse accused of killing the newborn baby of a skinhead father while my toes are in the sand and I'm sporting a wide-brim sunhat. Light reading, this is not! So I waited and made Small Great Things the first book I read after returning from vacay.
The first line(s) set the tone for a book. The first fifty pages are the determining factor of whether I will finish. This is no exaggeration when I tell you I put Small Great Things down after almost every chapter. It made me think! I nodded my head in agreement. I shook my head in disgust. I side-eyed colleagues. I questioned my own ethics and what I would do in a similar situation. I even let it sit for a full day to ponder how I felt about a well-intentioned white woman writing from the points of a view of an educated black woman, a naive white public defender, and a hateful skinhead. Yet I was drawn in as the story unfolded and tricks came out of the bag. The pace of events, alternate narration and unpredictable actions of the characters is what kept me reading.
"All mothers worry, but Black mothers, we have to worry a little bit more." ~ 81%
Bookhearts, Small Great Things will make you feel uncomfortable. Race, privilege, trust, equality and equity are themes. This new novel will most likely be reviewed by many and the author may even get pushback from readers. But listen when I tell you, it is worth every minute of your reading 450+ pages. I wasn't a "Picoult person" before this but glad I tried reading this new release; this is her riskiest work to date. It is meant to be read and discussed. I read a lot of books but this story and its characters will stick with me. Yes, it is fiction but it is so damn well written and obvious the author did research, that it will seem like real life. Small Great Things is rightfully one of the best books I have read in 2016.
Happy Pub Day, Jodi Picoult! Thank you for not giving up on weaving a story about racism in the United States. It may have taken you twenty years, but better now than never. Small Great Things is your small great thing that I am sure will stir thought and discussion.
Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.
Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: October 2016