Thursday, December 29, 2016

Small Great Things

Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis:  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 her child.  The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is along 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 McQuarie, 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.
from the book jacket

Review: This book was hard to read but not because it was poorly written but because of the subject material.  It was difficult because it challenges the reader to consider and confront their thoughts on races, racism, prejudice, and white privilege.  There were so many times that I was angry and didn't want to keep reading because of how mad I was at the characters.  There were other times I wanted to put the book down because I didn't think there could be a happy outcome to the book knowing Picoult's writing style.  There were times that I was in tears and feeling so much empathy towards a character.  This was not an easy book but one that really has made me question my actions, my thoughts, and opened my eyes to the injustices in America, both small and large.

Ruth is an African-American nurse who was not to touch a white child bu the baby goes into distress.  Later Ruth is charged with a crime of hurting the baby .  This baby was the child of white supremacists, Turk and Brit Bauer.  The story is told in alternating perspectives from Ruth's to Turk's to Kennedy's, Ruth's white public defender.  During the Turk chapters, my blood boiled at how hateful and spiteful Turk's and his acquaintances' views were on anyone who wasn't a white Aryan Christian and how wrong I thought they were.  It is so heartbreaking to know that there are people out there who truly believe that the white race is superior to others.  I know this book is fictional but there are certainly people like Turk and Brit out there and probably more than I think there are.  I did like that Picoult included an author's note at the end of the book to talk about how she came to write the book, her struggle with confronting her own views, and her research into the white supremacist movement.

But this book is more than just the outward racism by white supremacists.  It is also about the daily prejudices against those who aren't white by society in general.  Ruth's lawyer, Kennedy, would not consider herself to be racist but Ruth teachers her so much throughout this book.  Before reading this book I didn't really get what white privilege is but this book has opened my eyes to what I do have and made me wonder what I can and should do, as well as what others should do, to change our culture.  This should be a must read book!

**I received this book in a giveaway through GoodReads but that did not affect my honest review of this book.

Rating: 5 stars

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