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Small Great Things (edition 2016)
by Jodi Picoult (Author)
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
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Initially I thought this was thought provoking. And it is. But it’s wrapped up too neatly. In typical Picoult fashion, the twist that wrapped things up was mostly unexpected, though foreshadowed for careful readers. Maybe I’m done with these type of novels. ( )
Narrators were fantastic. Hard to listen to the POV of the white supremacist. I've been following Liz's reviews for a while now, and her review of this book is an example of why - her sentiments are perfectly in line with what I thought about the book.
Small Great Things/Jodi Picoult This book was absolutely stunning--compelling, dramatic and interesting, and addressing the really important topic of racial relations in America today.
Being perfectly honest, I didn't enjoy the last two Picoult books I read, and I thought she was overhyped. But the premise of this intrigued me, so I decided to give her it another try. When I realised how long the book was, I groaned, thinking I was going to be bored. But no. I downloaded this before a fourteen hour flight, and it made the time fly by. This was incredibly well done.
Seeing the case go through the court system was really intriguing for me. We see a lot of court scenes in the media, but as is pointed out, these depictions are often inaccurate. Once bail has been decided, someone can't just walk free. The process of picking a jury is extremely calculated. Public attorneys are drastically underpaid and underappreciated. For the representation this book did of court alone, I'd rate this highly.
But race is what turned this book from a really interesting and encapsulating read to something important that I'll be getting my mother to read. I am white. Picoult is white. Thus I wasn't really expecting anything great; in fact, I was wary of a white person writing a black person's narrative. However, I dare say that she did her job. The scene that stood out most to me was when Ruth (black) and Kennedy (white) go to a supermarket. Both are well-educated, family-oriented, and relatively successful. Ruth is followed, and at the exit, her receipt is checked.
I assumed I was going to have a problem with what I presumed the ending of this book would be because I tend to hate endings that are too happy. But Picoult threw in a perfect twist, aptly discovered by Kennedy, that really just sealed the deal for me and this book.
Ruth's ability to stand up for herself and take risks was completely admirable. The small details, such as her sister helping her to apply for unemployment benefits and her subsequent training at McDonald's really made me feel as if I were standing next to her and living her life. Kennedy's motivation and openness was inspiring. And while it completely scares me that white supremacists still exist and are able to get away with so much hatred, their perspective was also eye opening.
I agree that most people are inherently if unintentionally racist. I don't think that's easily changed. But I think it can be talked about and thought about. And with this book, Picoult definitely made me question my privilege and think twice.
Five full stars for this one. We need more books like this. I'm extremely impressed.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Jodi Picoult's "Small Great Things" was an interesting book, but in so many ways it was no different than her other novels. With Picoult you can always expect a conflict based on current events, a resolution, some hope for the future. In a way, that's a good thing. When I was a teenager, I used to keep a stack of Harlequin romances in my bedroom, because if I got sick, the sameness of the plot was soothing. I've turned from Harlequins in my late teens to books like this in my late 50s.
The book focuses on three characters: Ruth, a highly competent and experienced African-American neonatal nurse who is accused of murdering a day-old baby; the baby's father, Turk, and his wife Brit, white supremicists who are the baby's parents, and Kennedy, the public defender who is Ruth's lawyer. There are lots of twists and turns in the novel, enough to keep me reading past my bedtime, but not enough to save a formula-driven book.
Great book that shows three different experiences with racism: a white supremacist, a Black nurse, and a white lawyer. These three people have very distinct POVs and we alternate between them. I found this a powerful way to give the reader - particularly white readers - an up-close view of both micro and macro aggressions that people of color deal with many times a day.
I was totally on board with the book until close to the end when a major choice of the Black nurse seemed out of character and, after that, a couple of coincidences that pushed my ability to suspend disbelief. Luckily the rest of the book made those things totally bearable.
This was my first Picoult book but it certainly won't be my last.
I was given an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley but it took me so long to get around to reading it that I was able to use the audiobook. Which was fantastic. Audra McDonald and Cassandra Campbell were just about perfect. The gentleman who performed Turk's portion was a touch less enjoyable but part of my impression may be due to the horrible nature of the character.
I highly recommend this book.
I would give the book 4.5 stars if Goodreads allowed it but am rounding up.
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.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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