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This stunning new novel is Jodi Picoult at her finest - complete with unflinching insights, richly layered characters, and a pause-resisting plot with a gripping moral dilemma at its heart.
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than 20 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sabrina Anderson on 11-01-16
Must read for everyone! I was a little hesitant to read at first being a black woman and doubting our represtation by a non black author. To my pleasant surprise Picoult hit the mark and truly embodied Ruth. The obstacle and fears Ruth expressed are truly daily concerns that plagues us. Loved this book.
56 of 58 people found this review helpful
By Anne on 10-16-16
Hard to read for several reasons
Picoult almost always makes me think. And Small Great Things is no exception. It's "ripped from the headlines" and fairly well done.
The setup and development of the plot were well done but the big "plot twist" was manipulative. I'm not going to provide any spoilers, but as soon as I saw it coming, I was annoyed with the author.
The main characters (Ruth; her son; her sister; Turk and Brittany, her accusers; and Kennedy, her public defender) were well drawn if painfully close to stereotypes - or maybe archetypes. This bothered me. She also had some very preachy moments in that she put lots and lots of words in the characters' minds so that lessons could be conveyed. These factors detracted from what was otherwise a pretty good book.
On the other hand, Picoult really made me think about some painful truths about race relations in America. One of the best things seemed to be her successful attempt to let her readers at least come close to understanding how "the other" feels.
For this I am grateful. I recommend the book.
82 of 87 people found this review helpful