If you’ve been following our blog then you’ve probably noticed that Melinda’s and Jennifer’s reading tastes are pretty different. They’ve collaborated on just one review but are happy to join forces again for a review of Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things.
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse with more than twenty years’ experience. During one of her shifts, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told that she’s being reassigned to another patient because 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?
What Melinda says ~
I’ve loved pretty much everything Picoult has written with The Storyteller being my absolute favorite. She writes books on subjects that include everything from school shootings to wars to suicide. Her stories are almost always guaranteed to make me think about the issues more in depth and to see things from both sides which is what I really admire about her writing. So when I found out she was going to signing at BEA earlier this year I *kind of* freaked out a bit. I was lucky enough to get in line early (or rather Jess was awesome enough to get there early for me!) and I got to meet Jodi and she was genuinely nice which is always a bonus I love.
Small Great Things is immediately a weighty book dealing with serious issues that seem particularly relevant right now. In all honesty I had to put it down for a while because I found it a bit overwhelming. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly love this book. I did. I just needed a breather from the topic. Ruth is African American and pretty much the best labor and delivery nurse there is in her hospital. But the baby of white supremacist parents dies while in her care and we follow the course of this story before, during, and a bit after.
We get to see multiple POVs here which I’m a fan of when done well and this was definitely done well. We get to see Ruth’s POV and her confusion, anger, and frustration at being questioned over her care of this baby. We get to see Turk’s POV, who is the father of the baby who dies. I really liked getting to see things from his eyes as naturally I want to dislike him but Picoult deftly gave him confusion, vulnerability, and of course anger at the loss of his child. Then we also see Kennedy’s POV, who is the white lawyer defending Ruth.
The combination of these 3 points of view helped bring this complicated story together for me. I thought that handled this topic with great care and candor but also doesn’t try to sweep things under the rug. I highly recommend it.
What Jennifer says ~
Picoult’s Small Great Things approaches head on a heavy topic and one that is very prevalent today.
This novel is not packed with non-stop action or suspense. It’s the story of a woman who feels wronged by the actions of those around her. Plainly put … it’s about race. It’s not a read that’s going to make you comfortable. Or all cozy in your chair. It made me a little sick to my stomach. This book made me examine my thoughts, motives and actions. I think perhaps that is its purpose.
Both reviewers received an uncorrected proof of this book from Book Expo America in May 2016.
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewer: Melinda & Jennifer
Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
Release Date: October 11, 2016