Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
Pages: 480
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Source: Free ARC from Random House – Ballantine

Rating: A+

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Random House-Ballantine via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).

Summary: When Ruth, a labor and delivery nurse of 20 years, is told she is no longer allowed to care for an infant patient because she is African American and the parents are white supremacists, she is incensed, both at the parents and at the charge nurse for allowing the discrimination, but she does what she’s told. However, the next day, there is an emergency that requires the only two other nurses on staff, and she is left to watch the infant as he recovers from a routine circumcision. Unfortunately, for reasons not apparent at the time, the child starts to struggle and Ruth is left with a difficult decision – honor the request to not touch the child and potentially let him die, or ignore orders and attempt to save him. Eventually a crash team arrives, but it’s too late. The parents blame Ruth for the death of their son and the hospital is happy to hand her over as a scapegoat. As a result, her life is turned upside down.

Review: Where to even begin. Jodi Picoult has been on my TBR author list forever, but despite owning several of her books, I hadn’t read anything by her just yet. I will definitely be bumping those books up the list! She is a masterful storyteller, excellent at building emotionally complex characters, offering the different perspectives of opposing characters, and shedding light on a very touchy and controversial subject: racism. It is a delicate topic, and it is clear that she took time and care in approaching this book in a way that was thoughtful, enlightening, and hopefully sensitive to the feelings of varying readers. For me, there was so much light shed on the myriad ways – small and large – in which racism is a part of everyday life for people of color, and how those of us who are white are blind to that fact, that even without intending to, we contribute to the problem in ways we don’t realize. Given where things are at in this country right now, it’s a very timely book, one that I think everyone – but especially white people – will benefit from reading. The insights and perspectives it offers are priceless.

I could spend a lot of time dissecting this book and explaining all the reasons why it is a must read, but this is a review and not an essay, so all I can say is:

Read it.

You won’t regret it.

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