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Non 1001 Book Review: Small Great Things Jodi Picoult


Jodi Picoult’s book is a timely release since it tackles issues of racism in America. Book Worm reviewed the book and here are her thoughts…

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Published in: 2016 (Release date October 11 in US)
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★★★
Find it here: Small Great Things

This ARC was provided by Hodder and Stouton (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: Those of you who have read a Jodi Picoult book will know that her stories are often told from multiple viewpoints and this book is no exception. In this novel we hear from Ruth, an African American nurse, Turk, the white supremacist father, and Kennedy the white public defender. All three have different opinions on race and racism and this makes for uncomfortable reading.

Turk is racist and homophobic and there is no getting away from the fact that the sections written by him are full of hatred and violence. This is not a pleasant viewpoint to read.

Ruth has tried her hardest to make a success of her life and to ensure that her son has the best of everything and is not limited by the colour of his skin. What makes these sections so hard to read is that what Ruth believes is shown to be illusion. No matter how well she thinks she fits in, she is still separated by skin colour.

The sections written by Kennedy were perhaps the hardest for me because they were not extreme they were smack bang in the centre of how I feel – I am white and I don’t consider myself racist – Kennedy feels exactly the same until Ruth shows her that is a privilege to be in a position where you can consider yourself as colour blind because being white means you don’t have to worry about colour, there is so much Kennedy and I take for granted that might not be the same if our skin colour was different.

This is a hard book to read but it is well worth it and is a timely novel to read given the state of political events around the world. It made me think about my daily actions and how much I take for granted. It has made me realize that no matter how far we have come in terms of relationships with others, be they different skin colours, different religions, or sexual orientation, we still have so far to go and we should never lose sight of that.

Who would enjoy this book: This is a tough one as it’s not a book that is an enjoyable read. Instead I will say that if you are white you should read this book just to understand how lucky you are to have been born the colour you are.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Small Great Things

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. “Ruth shows her that is a privilege to be in a position where you can consider yourself as colour blind because being white means you don’t have to worry about colour…” It’s interesting that you note this because i was just thinking about this yesterday when I read comments from people all up in arms that it was noted that The Rock was the second non-white man to ever be named “People’s Sexiest.” “Why does everything have to be about race? I don’t see color!!!” was the complaint and I thought, after having wondered whether, indeed, there were any other “sexiest” men of color, “It’s a privilege to not have to notice race.” Picoult’s books don’t normally pique my attention, but it sounds like she gracefully tackled a difficult topic and I may have to pick this one up. Thanks for a really thoughtful review.


    November 18, 2016
  2. Book Worm #

    I would say this topic is tackled really well in the book. There were several instances that made me think surely that must be artistic license but then I wondered is it really or do I think that because it has never happened to me and I have never even worried that it might.

    It is definitely a book that makes you think.


    November 20, 2016

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Our top ten books of 2016 | The Reader's Room
  2. 89 Small Great Things | The Thousand Book Project

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