Review of 'Small Great Things'

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

small_great_things.jpg Ruth Jefferson is a neonatal nurse who has been in the job for many years…and is black. When a white supremacist couple object to her involvement in the delivery of their child a note is placed on the hospital record: “No African American personnel to care for this patient” Ruth is confused and angry having lived most of her life trying very hard to ignore the colour of her skin. When the baby dies while under the emergency care of Ruth the hospital fires her then she charged with the murder of the child. Her son whose promising future is thrown into doubt when he starts rebelling with his confusion in what is happening. It will be up to the overworked public defender Kennedy McQuarrie to pick up the case while trying to avoid making it about race…but she soon learns it is all about race.

I have to admit I underestimated Picoult, seeing her as a purveyor of light reading material suited for the beach. “Small Great Things” is no such work packing an emotional punch that calls into question the gains we believe we have made in race relations over the previous decades. It reveals that we all prejudice regardless of whether we are black, white or whatever and that if we refuse to talk about it things will never get any better.

Beautifully written with chapters alternating between the main characters (including the racist parents) which are often difficult to take but give us an insight into what the truth of the matter is. No one is every simply good or bad…we are all shades of grey with our own version of self-delusional truth we desperately cling onto. Light stuff this is not.

A startling and powerful novel that keeps you guessing from the first few chapters up to the sudden, shock, ending. The novel is a bit drawn out in the middle leading up to the trial and the difficult subject matter often makes it difficult to read but persevere and take to heart the lessons for our society it contains.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-05-24

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Hodder

Publication Date: 2017

ISBN: 9781444788037