Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Book Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

When I decided to read Small Great Things, I knew nothing about the book.  I just noticed that many of my book hearts on Instagram and Twitter were posting about this book.  Without reading the book synopsis or the book reviews, I added it to my TBR list and downloaded it on Audible.  

I should have read the book synopsis and book reviews. However, if I had read the synopsis or the book reviews, I would not have read the book so soon.  I have been reading a lot of books about racism, and the recent presidential election was bringing the hatred out in full force. Being sick of the ever-present troll known as racism, after reading the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (book review coming shortly) and starting on Queen Sugar (I haven't finished it yet.), I probably would not have read this book for a long time. 

Therefore, I would have missed out on devouring a book full of life that included so many spoken and silent lessons.   I may have even forgotten that the book was on my ever-growing TBR list on Goodreads.  

Nevertheless, I listened to Small Great Things and was not disappointed. Jodi Picoult writes a book about race relationships, but from three different viewpoints, which makes the book so interesting.  She writes from an African American woman's perspective, a white supremacist's view, and a white woman's perspective.  

Ruth, the African American woman, is a neo-natal nurse, who encounters Turk, the white supremacist.  Turk requests that Ruth and anyone else of color not to provide care to his son.  When Turk's son dies, Ruth is immediately thrown under the bus by Turk and the hospital for his death.  Kennedy is the public defender, assigned to Ruth's case.  Not only does Ruth and Kennedy learn from each other, but they actually "see" each other.  Jodi Picoult demonstrates the profound lesson in "seeing someone."

Many times, as I listened to the text, I understood Ruth's confliction as an African American woman. I understood being the "only one" in particular settings.  I learned a valuable lesson about trying to "prove" that you were worthy enough to be accepted or educated enough to perform.  I understood not fitting in with the African American children and not fitting in with the White children.   Both her childhood and her adulthood mimics certain incidents in my life, which I could relate. Jodi's ability to paint vividly each perspective is remarkable.  The research that Jodi performed to gain insight into each aspect is translated into an amazing story that leaves you wanting to promote some change and any action.


I do not read the author’s note, but since I was listening to the audiobook, I was made aware of how hard Jodi Picoult worked to tell the “truth” in her fictional novel.  The story is based on a similar incident that occurred in Michigan.  An African American nurse, Tonya Battle, sued the hospital after it granted a man’s request that no African American nurses were to care for his newborn child.  A note was placed on the assignment clipboard that read “No African American nurse to care for baby.” Before reading Small Great Things, I was unaware of this event that took place in 2013. The news article can be viewed on USA TODAY. Her lawsuit was settled according to USA TODAY.

The author’s note is a must read and helps to understand how and why Small Great Things were written.  After reading the book, I decided to read the reviews.  I am glad I did not let the reviews determine if I read this book.  I am glad that I was exposed to this book and its many messages.

I would recommend Small Great Things to everyone.  All ages. All ethnicities.  If I was still teaching college-level English,  I would figure out how to use this book in my lesson plans because of the profound messages within each page. So many themes are present in this book: compassion, racism, mental illness, hatred, and much more. Check out the excerpt of Small Great Things.

Have you read Small Great Things?  What did you think of the book?  Are you going to add this book to your TBR list?

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