Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Hello all. I’m getting back into the swing of things after 10 days of vacation in and around NYC. I’m hoping to get to share some great moments with you in a future post.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars for sure I have to applaud Jodi Picoult for writing a book that would shine a spotlight on a topic that most people are reluctant to give thought to, discuss or acknowledge, institutional racism and white privilege in America. And she did this knowing that she’d get pushback from both blacks and whites; blacks because they wouldn’t feel that she could portray the black experience accurately, and whites because she will have exposed their privilege in such a blunt and transparent way that it will make them uncomfortable. I commend her for the immense research she put into this book in an attempt to shed light on this very delicate topic as accurately as her accumulated information and knowledge could allow. I think she did an excellent job. Her intention was not to use her status to bring awareness to the black community, since they already know how racism affects their daily lives. But her desire was to inform the white community, so that they might get a different perspective on the privileges they naturally possess, and how their achievements and accomplishments are sometimes at the expense of those who have been denied the same opportunities in life that could likely have propelled them to the same levels of success.

And now, a peek into the plot….. Ruth Jefferson is a highly skilled Labor and Delivery nurse. One day while performing routine duties on a newborn infant she notices the parents’ reluctance to talk to her or acknowledge her instructions. When the father, Turk Bauer, finally speaks, he orders Ruth to get away from his wife, and then demands to see Ruth’s boss and indicates that he and his wife, Brittany, do not want Ruth, or anyone who looks like her, to touch their baby, Davis. Ruth is black. A closer look at Turk’s exposed arm indicates a confederate flag tattoo. So that’s what this is about. Turk is a white supremacist.

Even though Ruth was told by her boss not to have contact with the infant, Davis was left in Ruth’s charge when an emergency erupted elsewhere in the hospital while they were short staffed. The baby went into distress but Ruth hesitated to intervene since she was told not to touch him. Although she aids other doctors to save his life, he dies. Turk overheard the doctor telling Ruth to “loosen up” on the chest compressions, so he blames Ruth for his child’s death. Before long, she is dismissed from the hospital and arrested as a criminal, charged with the murder of the Bauers’ son, Davis.

Jodi Picoult’s book is deep on so many levels. It’s definitely one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read. It encompasses so much that it’s difficult to summarize into a review of reasonable length. Mostly, it expounds upon the harsh realities of racial inequality and prejudice (particularly black vs. white), and it depicts some of the animosities, hostilities and judgments that exist, mainly due to ignorance, stereotypes, and misinformation. At times hard to read, but not at all difficult to relate to for persons of color, Small Great Things continually highlights negative situations that confront black people on a daily basis. I think Ms. Picoult tried to include as many of these scenarios as she possibly could to show white America the challenges that blacks are faced with, and how this has, and continues to, stifle their progression; a reality that’s difficult for some to comprehend, which is understandable since it’s not their reality. Nevertheless, Jodi Picoult humbly acknowledges (in the author note portion) her former ignorance regarding racial issues and prejudice, her own natural-born privilege and entitlement, and how she has chosen to use it as a force for good—to bring awareness to racism. A small, great thing.

Jodi Picoult pulls no punches in her portrayal of these calamities facing our society today. Small Great Things will get you riled up at times, but I think that’s the author’s intention. This is a grown-up book for sure with a mature theme. Ruth’s trial was captivating and dynamic. At times this book shook me to my core. It was heart wrenching. It angered me. It frustrated me. This book will probably not go over well with persons who are very sensitive about race issues. Mostly during reading I felt like this…

Compelling, provocative, and emotive, Small Great Things is a book you will not easily forget. This was my first Jodi Picoult book, and it was an amazing read. Ms. Picoult is certainly a gifted writer.

Have you read Small Great Things? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts if you’re so inclined.

Have a great day!!

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