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Saturday, February 10, 2018

REVIEW: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult @jodipicoult @randomhouse #ballantinebooks

Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

An extremely emotional, captivating and intense story.
I had quite a lot to say about this one, but then Jodi Picoult always seems to have this way with me.

Published:  October 11, 2016
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
480 Pages
Kindle Edition

Goodreads 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 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.

My Review:

I'm not sure if reading the Author's note ever changes your mind about your review or feelings on a book, but this one just pushed me straight into a 5 star where I was lacking before because it's truly hard to review a book that brings forth such strong emotion from chapter one through to the very last page.

I did a group read of this book and just in the first half we were having some pretty heavy and deep discussions.  And for the first time in I don't even know how long, I read some other reviews before I decided to write mine.  For a book that seemed to ironically create some divisiveness, I wanted to see where people stood.  What I got was a lot of this:  Some people felt everything was overly stereotypical and unnecessary with a twisty end that was unnecessary.  Others felt this was extremely though provoking, gut wrenching and made them question themselves and the people around them - in a good way.  

We see through the eyes of three people:  Turk, the White Supremacist whose baby boy died at the hospital.  He blames, Ruth, the African American nurse who he specifically told authorities he did NOT want touching his baby.  And then we have Kennedy, a public defender who takes on Ruth's court case - her first big case and one that opens her eyes.  Sometimes we just see from their points of views - other times we see the same scene from each side.  Personally, I think Picoult did a good job with these - and trust me, each and every one of these people pissed me the hell off.

Here is where I stand.  Yes, it's a definitely IN YOUR FACE read and I can completely understand why it will receive some backlash.  I think personal experiences will weigh heavily into how someone feels about this book.  I was equally pissed off and not wanting to read anymore to not being able to put this down.  I am grateful I decided to take my time with this one.  Not just so I could try and keep the pace of my fellow readers, but because I definitely needed to put this one down, take a few deep breaths and wallow in what was happening.  I also had to remind myself that hey, this is a book... a work of fiction and let's see where it goes before getting my panties all in a bunch.  I started this on February 1st and just finished today (February 9th).  If any of you know how I read, then you know this is a long time for me to finish a book.

I think anyone who thinks some of these scenarios in the book are far fetched or unrealistic should really go back and read Picoult's note at the end.  She did a lot of research and based a LOT of what is in the book on real events.  Sad, but true.  Does that make this perfect? No.  Does that mean she accurately portrayed what it's like in each of Ruth, Turk, or Kennedy's heads?  Probably not.  But consider that it seems a lot of people would've preferred to have this story be linear and through Kennedy's POV only as hers was the best arc.  Why?  Admittedly, I enjoyed Kennedy's journey throughout the book.  Quite frankly, I think what Picoult was trying to do with this book is what Kennedy did at the end.  And for that, I applaud her.  I also enjoyed Ruth and Turk's POVs.  While hard to read in some instances, so much rang true from my own experiences, my own witnessed accounts and just the way the world tends to be at times.

I (obviously) could go on and on about this book but I'll stop here.  At the end of the day, the fact that this book did illicit such strong feelings and kept my avid interest from the very beginning, I feel good about my five stars.  Will this book work for everyone?  Definitely not.  Those who have read her work before knows she doesn't back down from whatever subject she so chooses to write about.  She clearly is an extremely talented writer, but we all know that.  Personally, I think this is a must read, but do NOT pick it up if you're looking for something light and happy in between other reads.  Be prepared for a highly emotional and captivating story that will bring thoughts and emotions you probably didn't even know you had to the surface.


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