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.
Published, October 2016
My Review 4 1/2 stars
Small Great Things is the hardest, most disturbing book I have read. Race relations is not a topic I read about or discuss and I think this was Jodi Picoults goal, well done, it will be memorable. I initially was going to give it a 4 but the fact that she will get people talking including myself, I give it 4 1/2 stars. I have read a few of her books in the past, really enjoyed or not at all, I actually said I was done with her books and then she released this one which made you think about the present, how real this premise is, absolutely timely.
Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. - Benjamin Franklin
I really enjoyed how the chapters were done. Early birth through to afterbirth and the story was told between Ruth, Turk and Kennedy. There were times I had to walk away from the book, just emotional. Within the last year I have questioned my reality but I have realized that everyone reacts differently to history and the legacy of family life. Small Great Things tries to get you understand all the different sides of why we think and react the way we do.
Bad things happen to good people all the time and everyone's response or perception is different. The heartbreaking part of this book is that the baby still died. There is nothing that can bring him back. The back stories were amazing and uncomfortable to read. I personally couldn't relate to any characters but could see this happening. Once I reached 50% the court case started, I felt like I can breathe again. I have been a juror before and this kind of thing would give me nightmares.
There is no such thing as a fact. There is only how you saw the act, in a given moment. How you reported the fact. How your brain processed that fact. There is no extrication of the story teller from the story.
A quote used with the title.
"You're destined to do small great things," she told me. "Just like Dr. King said. " She was referring to one of her favorite quotes: If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.....
I thought it was a nice touch that the white supremacist had a black lawyer and Ruth had a white lawyer. We might not realize it but color is noticed in many scenarios. Both lawyers didn't want to play the race game in court. "I don't think about being white. I told you the first time we sat down - I don't see color." (Ruth) "Not all of us have that privilege."
Sure, I know that racism exists and that people like Turk Bauer are waving that banner, but I don't judge all white folks by the historical actions of a few.
There was only part in the book that just didn't ring true to me but it did for a colleague. It amazes me but history truly repeats itself. And this is a very scary thought. If we think of all the terrorists attacks, Trump becoming President, the turmoil in our own countries, race all plays a part which is sad. How do we become a part of the change?
I work in an hospital and I can see a Manager requesting for a staff member to not be on a patients case from their request but I don't think it will be formal and in the charts. So I did believe this could happen. Also, when difficult decisions need to be made, people are thrown under the bus, integrity is what we strive for but I think it forgotten at times.
There were many surprising moments in this book. Shocking moments. Overall this will be a memorable book with great characters. Even if you try to guess the outcome, there are so many layers you will never guess them all.
Other Jodi Picoult books I have read
My Sisters Keeper - I enjoyed both the book and movie
The Pact -
not my favourite
- I have introduced myself as a Bermudian female blogger that loves thrillers. I have been blogging for almost 8 years and I am 41 years old. I have never mentioned that I am black. From the book blogging world I know this does not matter, (I will continue to believe this) What matters is that we all love to read and enjoy the networking. I have never put up a picture. Here I am :-) Other than reading I also love gardening and Yoga. I am a HR Specialist, a Strala Yoga Guide and Pilates Instructor. I'm also the mom of a 9 year old girl.