Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)
I love Jodi Picoult’s novels because of her deft tackling of ethical and moral issues that face our society. I have been a fan since I read The Pact many years ago. When I saw that Jodi was going to be in Kansas City during her promotional tour of Small Great Things I immediately purchased tickets and it was a wonderful event!
According to Jodi, she started a book about race relations many years ago but set it aside when she felt it wasn’t her place to bring up the issue. Given recent events in the US, she felt it was time to tackle a story about racism and our societal and learned attitudes about race. Picoult described her in depth research, from meeting with former white supremacists, talking medical jargon with nurses, and meeting with a group of African American women to discuss Ruth’s voice and language. One thing that cannot be denied through reading this novel is that Picoult did her absolute best to write with authenticity.
Small Great Things is the story of Ruth Jefferson, an African American labor and delivery nurse with over twenty years’ experience. During another regular day, conducting a regular check of a newborn in the ward, Ruth’s life is turned upside down. She is told the parents, who are white supremacists, don’t want her treating their son. When there are complications after a routine procedure and the baby dies, the parents accuse Ruth of killing their child. In the aftermath, Ruth questions the choices she has made throughout her life, how she has raised her son, and if her career will recover.
In true Picoult style of telling the story through various points of view, the author draws the reader into the gripping, misunderstood and complicated lives of all of the characters. What do we each know about other races and what different roles does privilege play in society that we may have not even considered before? What creates hate in our society? Picoult has given us a book that holds a mirror up to our faces and forces us to look honestly at ourselves, our words, and our actions. Small Great Things earns 5 solid stars.