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Small Great Things: A Novel Hardcover – October 11, 2016
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An Amazon Best Book of October 2016: Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things is about racism, choice, fear, and hope. The novel is based on the true story of a labor and delivery nurse who was prohibited from caring for a newborn because the father requested that no African-American nurses tend to his baby. In the fictional version, Ruth, the African-American nurse in question, finds herself on trial for events related to the same request made by a white supremacist father. Using the narratives of Ruth, the baby’s father, and the female public defender who takes Ruth’s case, Picoult examines multiple facets of racism. The topic of race in America is difficult to talk about, but in in an honest and revealing way Picoult allows readers to draw their own conclusions about how we see ourselves and others in the world. Small Great Things is an important and thought-provoking novel about power and prejudice that deserves to be read, digested, and shared with others. --Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review
“Small Great Things is the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written. . . . It will challenge her readers . . . [and] expand our cultural conversation about race and prejudice.”—The Washington Post
“A novel that puts its finger on the very pulse of the nation that we live in today . . . a fantastic read from beginning to end, as can always be expected from Picoult, this novel maintains a steady, page-turning pace that makes it hard for readers to put down. It also allows for conversations to be had and for people to sit back and look at their lives, actions (past and present) and wonder how they will move forward. This is a fantastic book not only because it addresses something that happens in America and around the world every day, but it also shows us that change is possible too.”—San Francisco Book Review
“A gripping courtroom drama . . . Given the current political climate it is quite prescient and worthwhile. . . . This is a writer who understands her characters inside and out.”—Roxane Gay, The New York Times Book Review
“Small Great Things embraces . . . empathy, hope and humility.”—Newsday
“[An] author at the top of her heart-rending game.”—The National
“A gripping read about an issue of urgency.”—The Vancouver Sun
“A book that needs to be read.”—The Detroit News
“Exciting and fast-paced.”—New York Journal of Books
“[Picoult] offers a thought-provoking examination of racism in America today, both overt and subtle. Her many readers will find much to discuss in the pages of this topical, moving book.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Powerful . . . revelations abound.”—The Free Lance-Star
“Picoult has outdone herself.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A courageous and important work.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“I couldn’t put it down. Her best yet!”—New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman
“A compelling, can’t-put-it-down drama with a trademark [Jodi] Picoult twist.”—Good Housekeeping
“It’s Jodi Picoult, the prime provider of literary soul food. This riveting drama is sure to be supremely satisfying and a bravely thought-provoking tale on the dangers of prejudice.”—Redbook
“Jodi Picoult is never afraid to take on hot topics, and in Small Great Things, she tackles race and discrimination in a way that will grab hold of you and refuse to let you go. . . . This page-turner is perfect for book clubs.”—Popsugar
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I imagine some people will be doubters. How could the author possibly understand this situation, even if she is writing fiction. I have read interviews about the depth of research that she put into this book. She is not claiming to be an expert. She based it on a true story. The title comes from a line in a famous speech of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s: If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
The story is about a nurse, no ordinary nurse, but one who is dedicated and well regarded, with a twenty-year career at the hospital where ‘the incident’ occurs. A husband and wife have just had their first baby. When the nurse comes into their room, to take over the shift of another labor and delivery nurse, upon seeing her, the parents, who are white supremacists, see that she is black and immediately request to see her supervisor, whom they tell, in no uncertain terms, that this woman is not to touch their baby. What unfolds next is a devastating. Both of their lives take a turn neither could have predicted. The story is told from both sides. Heartbreak from the nurse’s and mistrust of everyone she encounters. She has noticed this before or rather, has worked hard to rise above it, but now it is all surfacing and cannot be ignored. The extremely racist man is angered to the point of revenge and his wife is shattered and taken to bed and depression.
Some books make you think. Some books turn you to a fantasy world. Some books make you step outside of yourself and think how others feel. SMALL GREAT THINGS makes you think, step outside of yourself, take another's perspective, and re-think your beliefs, and step outside of the fantasy world you have been living in, where all people are treated equally. It is both disturbing, heartbreaking and enlightening.
I commend Picoult for taking on the writing of a potentially controversial subject and for tackling it with a story that has great depth and feeling.
This book is about Ruth, a widowed African-American nurse, who is also a single mom. She loves her job as a labor-delivery nurse in a small hospital. She worked there for 20 years and never had a problem until one day, when someone requested that she doesn't take care of their baby because of her race. This request eventually led to a series of events where Ruth finds herself questioning the system she has lived in all of her life, worked in and everything she believed in.
Kennedy is Ruth's lawyer, a public assistance lawyer who took on the case, determined to win the case for Ruth. As the case winds on, Kennedy finds herself questioning the status quo and realizes that not everything is as black and white as it may seem in the real world.
Turk, the white supremacist father, who was so aggrieved at the loss of his baby son needed a scapegoat for his rage and sorrow. He chose to file against Ruth, whom he thought murdered his baby. He shares his backstory; raised by a grandfather who was angry at the world; taught him self-defense. Turk then gets involved with different skinhead groups and met his wife at one of those rallies.
This novel is filled with backstories of each of the main characters. Sometimes, some of the stuff being said is uncomfortable, but it is definitely thought-provoking. If there is a time to be discussing race, now is the time to start. This book is a start for those who want to learn a little bit more about what it is like on both ends of the spectrum. Most people would consider themselves to be in the middle, until something happens and they find themselves on opposite ends of the issue. It is an eye-opener, even for the reader. Picoult weaves her way through this story delicately as well as making her points without beating someone on the head with the truth.
Out of all of her books, this one is my favorite. There is no unlikable character in this book. Just unpleasant truths that reveal the decades-long apathy with history and with the truth of how things really are in this country. I hope this book will start conversations among friends and in book clubs. It is definitely a thought-provoking book.