Small Great Things

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is this really a 5 star book? It had some flaws, and the ending was really not up to Picoult’s usual twist. Everything was tied up a little too neatly. BUT. Reading this while the events at Charlottesville unfolded (white supremacists came looking for trouble at the taking down of a Confederate statue, and one of them ran down the non-violent counter-protestors with his car) proved to be eerily timely. We read this for book club and every single person remarked that it really opened their eyes to the fact of white privilege and made them think and they felt their perspective had changed significantly because of this book. For that reason alone, I’ll give this 5 stars, or 6 or 7…. I had difficulty listening to this book at first. The parts narrated by Turk, the white supremacist father, made me physically ill. But please do persevere! As Ruth and Kennedy wrestle with the issues of race and racial equity, so will you.

Book description: 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.

Audiobook read by Audra McDonald with Cassandra Campbell and Ari Fliakos.