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Small Great Things Bets On...

Small Great Things

October 2016

For years, my favorites of Jodi Picoult’s 26 books were NINETEEN MINUTES and MY SISTER’S KEEPER. Each of them struck a real chord with me. When I heard the premise of SMALL GREAT THINGS, I was similarly intrigued. It so delivered, making it the third of her books that I highly recommend. Indeed I have found myself “book-talking” this book to friends, colleagues and fellow readers for the last few months. When I read an early copy, it was during a very busy week, and I remember putting aside many tasks to finish it.

In SMALL GREAT THINGS, Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse. During one of her rotations, while going about her typical duties with a newborn named Davis, cleaning and swaddling him, the parents take offense. It has nothing to do with her nursing skills, but rather the fact that she is African American and they are white supremacists. They have it noted on their baby’s chart that no African American personnel are to touch their child. Days later, the baby is in the nursery when all the other nurses are called to an emergency, leaving Ruth with a dilemma. Davis is in cardiac distress. What she does, or does not do, next, calls for her to be arrested and charged with a crime. Layer in Kennedy McQuarrie, Ruth’s white attorney, who thinks race should be left out of the trial, and you have one very complex story on tap.

I had the pleasure of hearing Jodi speak about this book a few times before publication. She went through a lot of personal introspection as she was researching and writing it --- and working on it made her much more aware of race differences, broadening her perspective on them. She is very clear that she knows she wrote from the perspective of a privileged white woman --- the lens from which she was authentically able to see the story. She is tired of people saying, “I do not see race,” and after reading this, you can see why.

My only quibble was with the ending, which was too neat. As in MY SISTER’S KEEPER, I felt like I did not “need it” for the book to work for me. But I will put that aside and look forward to discussing the novel with readers who discover it. It’s the kind of book you immediately want to have a meaningful conversation about! One final note: Jodi's last couple of books were not faves of mine. For any of you who have not read her work in a while, this is the one you want to pick up.

Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

  • Publication Date: February 20, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345544978
  • ISBN-13: 9780345544971