Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: Small Great Things

Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

Why did you choose this book? I routinely read Jodi Picoult’s books
When did you read this book? September 2016
Who should read this book? readers who enjoy Jodi Picoult or contemporary drama
Source: Penguin First To Read
Here is a synopsis of Small Great Things 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.

My Review

I have read most of Jodi Picoult’s books as soon as they are released in recent year, so I was excited when I saw this one offered through Penguin’s First To Read program and I couldn’t wait to read it. In many ways the synopsis felt like a ‘drawn from the headlines’ story with the racial implications, and in fact, in the author notes at the end, we learn she was inspired by a real incident in that took place in Michigan.

The book was a quick read and a good story. It was easy to like Ruth, the labor and delivery nurse charged with failing to fulfill her duties, though I did question her actions at times when it seemed she purposely made things harder for herself and her son than was necessary. It was so easy to not like Turk, the ‘White Supremist’, or his family. As regular readers of this blog know, one of my pet peeves is books that leave me hanging and wondering what happened next,  so one thing that I really appreciate about this book is that the author gave me a glimpse into the future. I know a little of what happened in the lives of many of the main characters. Some of this seemed to be a bit too neatly tied up, and I would have liked to know how it came about and what happened with some of the lesser characters, but overall, I am satisfied with the glimpse I got.

This is a timely story which includes some difficult conversations about race and about what it means to be racist. I don’t entirely agree with everything said in the book, but I do think the point is well taken that we need to be having these difficult conversations. This book will make an excellent book club selection for the right group, however, I think everyone needs to be prepared to be open-minded and to really listen to what others are saying and feeling. If your book club doesn’t handle controversy well, I’d recommend steering clear of this one. That doesn’t mean that YOU shouldn’t read it, though. This is definitely a book with ‘food for thought’!

My Rating:  ✰✰✰✰½             4½ stars

I received an advanced copy of this book for review purposes through the Penguin First To Read program.
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1 comment:

  1. I've yet to read anything by Picoult but my sister has been recommending her books for years, so hopefully this will be the one I finally pick up :)