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Small Great Things: A Novel Hardcover – October 11, 2016
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“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
- Publisher : Ballantine Books; 1st edition (October 11, 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0345544951
- ISBN-13 : 978-0345544957
- Lexile measure : HL800L
- Item Weight : 1.65 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.27 x 1.38 x 9.52 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #23,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Before she could preach her sermon though, she had to build a pulpit. Picoult spends the first half of her book building that pulpit from the frayed headlines of news stories over the past decade, many of which have been retracted or proved wrong. (Headlines can be unreliable.) But build it she does; laboriously, flawed, shaky and stretching the credulity of the reader. I could list the ridiculous events readers are expected to swallow, but there are too many. It would bore you, and me, to try. Read it and you can be entertained by highlighting the “ripped from the headlines” events.
It’s hard to care about a story if the characters aren’t believable or sympathetic. Picoult falls short in the character development also. To support her impending sermon, she had to create characters that would serve her message, 2 dimensional almost describes them, maybe 1.5-D would be more accurate. Ruth, the black nurse, is the pure snow-white angel, Turk, the white supremacist, is the black evil devil. And so they stay until the end when Ruth is saved by a now-enlightened social justice warrior public defender trust baby, and Turk is redeemed by his love for his wife who he finds out is half black. (Oh! The irony!) Don’t worry, Turk’s half black wife is conveniently disposed of to allow him an uncomplicated redemption.
The preaching really gets going in the trial, which starts after the pulpit is sufficiently built. We are expected to forget the shaky, inconsistent and defective foundation and now focus on the problem of racism, and white privilege. After all, Picoult tells us in the Author’s Note that her intended audience is the privileged white class that arrogantly claims not to see color.
I’m still left to wonder why people with a smidge more melanin in the top layer of their skin still need to be rescued, saved, explained and all the other patronizing remedies privileged whites foist on their behalf. How condescending. When will melanin-challenged people allow abundant-melanin people to be something other than victims? When will abundant-melanin people refuse to be classified as victims. I guess as long as there is money to be made and power to be had while pushing that meme, we will need a victim class.
It was a renewing of the mind for me. I had to learn to think differently. I had to see things differently. It sounds crazy, but it was as if I was brainwashed. Brainwashed by my country and by my upbringing.
But, South Africa legalized apartheid, named it, called it into existence. As wrong as that is, it was out there, known to all.
When I read small great things, I felt like America had this disease, this underlying disease that no one knew about. It rots from the inside. And the entire nation walks around pretending it's all ok.
In some ways, in South Africa, we are blessed, our disease was a big rotting sore, and we cut it open and it oozed puss and blood and it was not nice to look at, and it was shameful, but we knew it was there and that we had to do something about it. So we cut it open and exposed it to the world, but most importantly to ourselves, and that is where the healing began. We still have a lot to learn, we still have a long road ahead, but we are healing and learning to love again. I pray the same for America.
Top reviews from other countries
The reviewer who said she stopped reading after the point of Ruth’s arrest because it was “unrealistic “, should perhaps familiarise herself more with the American legal system and be grateful she doesn’t live there! Which is turn makes me think an interesting discussion would be how far different are things in America? I was shocked that the presumption of free speech in the USA would allow an organisation such as a hospital to forbid an African-American nurse to treat a white child. Unless I am very wrong, that would be illegal here.
But as many other readers have also said, I found myself questioning my innate racism. I hope this book will stay with me and keep challenging me to face up to deep-seated and ingrained prejudices.
It isn’t a courtroom drama as such - I found the courtroom aspect enough and not long winded or boring. It kept you gripped. The story is based on a baby of a white supremacist who dies in hospital shortly after being born. The nurse accused of killing him is African American. I highly recommend this book. It kept me turning the pages!
I did not like the racial undertone nor the medical abbreviations and jargon. I was not happy with the narrative and did not like any of the characters.
I could see where the story was going and did not want to go there. Once I start skipping paragraphs (which I did frequently during Turks narrative) I know it’s time to give up.
I think this book did an amazing job at opening up the topic of racism to the reader. As a white woman, living in a pretty middle class existence, I know for a fact that I have unfair privileges and I will never fully understand the complexities of racism, as much as I try to educate myself. This novel certainly has opened my eyes to the some of the more subtle aspects of racism that I hadn’t even thought about before. While there were the obvious racist themes in this novel, it wasn’t those that shocked me the most, it was the parts that you don’t often think about when you think of racism. So for that, for opening my eyes and my mind, I applaud Picoult for writing such a difficult and controversial book.
However, I think the teachings of this book could have been done in a more compelling story. At the end of the day, there was nothing inherently wrong with the plot, but I didn’t quite connect with it. I found a lot of it unexciting and the “twist” at the end, that Picoult just has to add into each one of her books, was so blatantly obvious it didn’t surprise me at all and kind of made the rest of the book feel a bit cheap?
Picoult’s writing isn’t my favourite, it doesn’t suck me in as much as other authors, but its still weaves a pretty interesting story. I think the characters in this book were far stronger than the plot.
My favourite part of this novel was watching Ruth and Kennedy’s relationship grow. I loved seeing how Kennedy steadily grew to understand Ruth’s frustrations and her plight to bring race to the forefront of people’s minds.
Overall, I did enjoy this book, mainly because of what it taught me and how it’s made me see things in a different way. But, it’s not the most exciting story I’ve ever read and I’m not big on the writing style.