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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things

by Jodi Picoult

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1,7241526,206 (4.17)39
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Premise is the sole black nurse on an L&D unit is left watching over the white child of white supremicist parents, and has been specifically told not to touch him. He arrested and Dad misinterprets the nurse's cardiac compressions on the child & takes his concerns to the police...and the nurse's license is suspended and she is arrested. Lot of discussion about race in 2016 (when the book was written), white privilege and unconscious and conscious racial bias. Very good. ( )
  nancynova | Feb 23, 2019 |
Jodi Picoult continues to tackle subjects that are both thought provoking and emotional and this is another one. I read the author's notes at the end before I read the book and I am glad I did, it put the topic into prespective for me and gave me deeper connection with the story.

Ruth is a highly competent and experienced labor & delivery nurse with over 20 years of experience and no marks against her record, she just happens to be African American. When she is assigned the care for newborn Davis, the baby of white supremacist parents, her troubles begin. These parents tell the hospital that they do not want their child cared for by "someone who looks like Ruth". As unbelievable as it sounds, the charge nurse puts a post-it note in the patient file prohibiting African American nurses from caring for the baby. This is a direct hit on Ruth as she is the only one on the L & D floor. When Davis dies shortly after his circumcision, the hospital, worried about a lawsuit, "throws Ruth under the proverbial bus" and suspends her as well as having her licence suspended pending investigation. When the white supremacist family goes to the police, the District Attorney agrees and files murder charges. Ruth is defended by Kennedy, a middle-class Caucasian female who works for legal aid.

The plot grabs you and pulls you along right from the beginning. The story is told from various points of view; Ruth, Kennedy, Turk (the father), Edison (Ruth's son). This gives you such an insight into the characters and their development is rich. The tension in this story is taut and whoever you root for, you do not know how this will turn out. This was definitely a 5 star read for me.

There are so many questions in this book, some that I am still left with even after reading it. What will happen to Ruth? Even if she is acquitted, how will this impact her life? her son's? her sister?
What will become of the family who lost their child? How prevalent is the White Supremecist movement in the US, Canada? What is prejudice -- and how does that compare with discrimination? (this is not something I ever thought of before) How does defending Ruth impact Kennedy and her family? Where do my ideas fit into this story? The answers to many of these questions come together in a gripping story and some of these questions will keep you thinking long after you have finished this book. A must read for anyone and everyone. ( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
Highly recommend, common themes of love, redemption and resolution that is typical of the author's treatment of societal injustices in the form of a compelling story
  MimiJac | Feb 5, 2019 |
This is the story of Ruth. Ruth is a 20 year veteran nurse who works at a small hospital on the labor and delivery ward. She loves her job and her patients. One day, she is taking care of a patient who is a white supremacist, and Ruth - is a black woman. The patient and her husband ask the nursing supervisor to remove Ruth from their baby's care. A note is put in the baby's chart that says "no African American care takers for this patient". Ruth is the only black nurse on this floor, so it is clear who they mean.

During one of her shifts, the baby goes into distress after a routine circumcision while Ruth is the only nurse available in the nursery. She is torn on what she should do because she was told not to touch the baby. She does do CPR on the infant at the direction of her supervisor, but this results in Ruth being charged with a crime. In court, her lawyer tells Ruth that they cannot play the race card because they want to show that Ruth was just doing her job - that this wasn't about the color of her skin.

This was a pretty good book. I enjoy Jodi's books, and she usually pulls a huge twist in the end that I hate, but this time she didn't. What I DIDN'T like about this book is the stereotypical black and white issues. She almost made them too extreme. I am sure that extreme exists - in fact I know it does - but I think Picoult took it a little too far. I found myself saying "really, you are going there?" several times. Especially when Ruth insisted on getting on the stand and basically explaining why this case was ALL about race.

So....I would read it. Honestly, it got 4500 good reviews on Amazon, and I can see why. ( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
"Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into
account, so everyone has a chance to succeed." Kennedy McQuarrie

"There is a difference between active and passive racism." KM

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ruth Jefferson is an accomplished neonatal nurse of 20 years. Turk Bauer's wife, Brittany, has just given birth to their first child, Davis. When Ruth is assigned to care for mother and son shortly after delivery, Turk, for personal reasons, demands she be taken off. Ruth's supervisor complies with his wishes and notifies Ruth not to touch, nor tend to Davis in any way. But when an emergency ensues, Ruth is faced with a moral dilemma which threatens her career, her livelihood and reputation.

Picoult's novel, as to be expected, was a difficult read. It is unnerving. It is uncomfortable. It slaps the reader in the face with bias, prejudice, hate, disdain and racism to the extreme (active racism) and then it gently massages in the idea that most everyone, in one way or another, often unknowingly and carelessly, participates in passive racism.

Picoult's writing is fluid and the story moves quickly. The characters are so well drawn and some actions so blatant that the reader moves through a series of emotions from sympathy to disgust to outrage. Most of all, Picoult's novel will make the reader think about and want to discuss the theme and examine the world in which we live in a new light.
Highly recommended. ( )
  Carmenere | Jan 9, 2019 |
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Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. -- BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced. -- JAMES BALDWIN
The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind. -- MARIA CRISTINA MENA
She wanted to get at the hate of them all, to pry at it and work at it until she found a little chink, and then pull out a pebble or a stone or a brick and then a part of the wall, and, once started, the whole edifice might roar down and be done away with. -- Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. -- Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
For Kevin Ferreira, whose ideas and actions make the world a better place, and who taught me that we are all works in progress. Welcome to the family.
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The miracle happened on West Seventy-Fourth Street, in the home where Mama worked.
"True confession? The reason we don't talk about race is because we do not speak a common language."
I hear the flow of the fountain behind me, and I think about water, how it might rise above its station as mist, flirt at being a cloud, and return as rain.  Would you call that falling? Or coming home?
Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into account, so everyone has a chance to succeed.
One day, you realize there is less of your life left than what you've already lived.
........there is nothing more selfish than trying to change someone's mind because they don't think like you. Just because something is different does not mean it should not be respected.
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"This stunning new novel is Jodi Picoult at her finest--complete with unflinching insights, richly layered characters, and a page-turning plot with a gripping moral dilemma at its heart. 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. Praise for Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time "A riveting drama."--Us Weekly "[A] moving tale."--People "A fast-paced, surprise-ending mystery."--USA Today "Poignant. an entertaining story about parental love, friendship, loss."--The Washington Post"-- "A woman and her husband admitted to a hospital to have a baby requests that their nurse be reassigned - they are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is black, to touch their baby. The hospital complies, but the baby later goes into cardiac distress when Ruth is on duty. She hesitates before rushing in to perform CPR. When her indecision ends in tragedy, Ruth finds herself on trial, represented by a white public defender who warns against bringing race into a courtroom. As the two come to develop a truer understanding of each other's lives, they begin to doubt the beliefs they each hold most dear"--… (more)

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