When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.
What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.
Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.
I have always been a huge fan of Jodi Picoult but if I’m honest her last couple of books have left me slightly disappointed for different reasons, but I’m glad to say this is definitely one of her best books yet. Jodi Picoult takes her winner formula and devises a plot around a controversial subject and then weaves her intricate plot around it, yes it has the court scenes in it, but for Small Great Things this added to the story, rather than spoiling it.
Ruth Jefferson is an African-American woman, she works as a labour and delivery nurse, where she has earned the respect of both her work colleagues and the parents whose precious bundles she has delivered, that is until Turk Bauer a white supremacist and his wife Brittany come under her care, and all hell breaks loose when Ruth is suspended from her job in an incident , which is clearly related to the colour of Ruth’s Skin. Public assistance lawyer Kennedy comes to Ruth’s aid, and truly believes she sees everyone as equal, but as Kennedy prepares for the trial, she realises that both her and Ruth will be forced to re-examine their past and present, and more importantly their own prejudices.
As this book is 512 pages long the author has plenty of time to develop her characters and the plot. Ruth was an interesting character, as you believe her to be a character who has overcome prejudice. As you learn more about Ruth you realise she actually suppressed parts of herself to be accepted by others, trying to hide from her roots and the colour of her skin. As Ruth looks at past events in her life, the prejudice is there for all to see, although Ruth chose to pretend otherwise, that doesn’t mean to say Ruth doesn’t have her own prejudices, and as the story unfolds you realise that everything isn’t as black and white as it first seems.
Turk Bauer and his wife are unfortunately white supremacists who have such ingrained ideas and hate for those they don’t consider to be of their colour or race. What I found interesting about their characters was the fact they had “learnt” to be racist, bought up by people who forced their own ideology on them, they were convinced they were right in the beliefs and in the actions they took. Unfortunately this made for a credible read, after all children are born without prejudice, and it’s the values and beliefs we install upon our children that they carry with them as they grown into adults.
Although this isn’t the easiest of subjects to write about Jodi Picoult manages to deliver a though provoking, emotive read, she deals with the subject with great empathy. As I mentioned this is a fairly long book, but as the author weaves her magic and draws you into Ruth’s tale it really didn’t feel that long. I was slightly disappointed with the ending if I’m being honest, it left me with a few unanswered questions, I’m not going to say why as in doing so I would have to give away major spoilers, but what I will say is I would have liked to have learnt more about a certain character after the trial.
I’m sure Small Great Things will be a discussion point for many readers, and it did make me question the injustice of racism, and left me feeling sad that how ever much we would like to believe racism doesn’t exist, it’s a fact its just as prevalent in our society today.
4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️out of 5
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (22 Nov. 2016)