Thursday 20 October 2016

October Book of the Month - Small Great Things

As authors go Jodi Picoult has to be one of my favourites, her stories are always thought provoking and emotional which is something I love in a book. I was kindly provided a copy of her latest release, Small Great Things by Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley and  I could give it nothing less than 5 out of 5 stars.

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.

Small Great Things is such a thought provoking book. It is beyond emotive and makes you really take a long hard look at racism and the idea of white privilege in a court room setting.

Ruth should be a person who is respected, a labour and delivery nurse of over 20 years, she has done her job well but seems to always fall short, is that because of the colour of her skin? She seems to think so.

The idea of racism has always been in the back of her mind but is bought forward when her latest patients husband requests that she no longer be allowed to deal with their newborn child. But when Ruth finds herself the only one available to help the infant when it is in distress should she follow orders and not touch the baby? Her hesitation is called into question when the baby dies and she finds herself on trial not only for neglect but for murder.
How am I supposed to encourage my son to be better than most people expect him to be? How can I say, with a straight face, you can be anything you want in this world - when I struggled and studied and excelled and still wound up on trial for something I did not do?

The novel is written from three points of view, Ruth, her lawyer Kennedy and the father who we know to be a neo-nazi. With plenty of detail, not only of the case itself but of the characters pasts too, there is a real depth to the whole story which really brings the emotions out of you as the reader.

I won't tell you just what happens as the court case progresses but what I will say is that this story is one that will open your mind, it will have you questioning your own beliefs and actions, I'd never consider myself racist but it made me re-evaluate how I look at the world.

People muat learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love - Nelson Mandela

Jodi has managed to write a novel that is sensitive to a subject that is still quite apparent in this day and age. Small Great Things is slow to build but still makes for a fantastic page turner, it is bold and powerful, this is an author that manages to make us as the reader see beyond the colour of our skins, to see the bigger picture.


  1. I am a huge fan of Jodi Piccoult, this story sounds fascinating and very thought provoking.


  2. Not heard of this author. Certainly sounds an emotive read

  3. This book is right at the top of my TBR list. Picoult is my favourite author of all time. Sounds like another fab story from her xx #readwithme

  4. Love Jodi Picoult -she always writes fom the heart and deals with such sensitive issues so well
    I havent read this one yet will be doing soon


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