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Small Great Things Back-of-Book Description
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.
It should be no secret to anyone by now that I am a true Jodi Picoult fan. I have and will continue to buy her books without even knowing what they’re about beforehand.
Such was the case with Small Great Things. I ordered it right when it was available for purchase – sometime in 2017 – but because of life and stuff, just didn’t start reading it until February of this year.
Guys. This book is so amazing and important. Not only does Jodi Picoult deliver her impactful and infallible writing style that we all love, she does it with a topic that really matters and resonates with people right now (especially in America) – Race.
As a white woman, I’m not going to pretend to know anything about the way people of color experience racism in their lives. But I feel completely confident that she captured the emotional struggle of feeling “other” or like no one around you knows what you’re going through.
She articulated the struggles that I imagine most of us feel when we aren’t sure of the right way to approach a topic; the uncertainty that comes with navigating interactions with people who are different than you.
Small Great Things is a wonderfully written reminder that the world is full of people with different viewpoints. Sometimes those differences are for the better and you can learn new things. And sometimes those differences are awful and you see the ugliness that lives within some people.
Picoult’s characters are real, rounded, and easy to either relate to or quickly remind you of someone. She puts you into their lives and ensures that you begin to care about them. Her settings are simple, commonplace, and perfect for picturing the scenes unfold.
Without giving too much away – you can pick this up knowing that it will draw you in quickly and keep you up at night wondering what will happen next. It will invade your thoughts by making you question your own feelings and behaviors in a way not many books do.
Buy It Now!
Favorite Quotes From Small Great Things
“There are just some feelings, I’ve learned, for which we never invented the right words.”
“What no one told me about grief is how lonely it is. No matter who else is mourning, you’re in your own little cell. Even when people try to comfort you, you’re aware that now there is a barrier between you and them, made of the horrible thing that happened, that keeps you isolated.”
“Doubt is like frostbite, shivering at the edges of my mind.”
“I couldn’t find it at first. And then, once I did, it was all I could see.”
“Maybe however much you ‘ve loved someone, that’s how much you can hate. It’s like a pocket turned inside out. It stands to reason that the opposite should be true, too.”
“At the heart of freedom, hope beats: a pulse of possibility.”
Small Great Things gets 5 out of 5 stars, friends. I loved it so much and I really believe it’s an important – albeit fiction – book for this day and age. Personally, I think a lot of people would benefit from reading the different perspectives put forth, and seeing the effects of some people’s actions on others – both loving actions, and hateful ones.
I would also really love to get a person of color’s response to this book – was she way off base? Was she spot on? Do you ever feel the way Ruth feels? So if you are and you’ve read it, please let me know what you think in the comments.
Thanks as always for reading! If you liked this review – or know someone who would – be sure to share it! Also consider pinning the quotes below to your fav Pintrest boards!