Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult's latest offering shines a light on racial tensions, white supremacists, and a tragic death of a new born child. Another light read from the queen of the court room novel...

Let's have the blurb, shall we?
When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is not doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes.

The Blonde Bookworm review:

...And open my eyes it did.

With the recent racial tensions heightened in America with President Trump's idiotic views on immigration, and the horrific attacks in Charlottesville, this novel from Picoult could not be more poignant. A black nurse is banned from touching the baby of a white supremacist couple, only for the baby to die under her watch. What ensues is a dramatic court case, circling the racial prejudices faced by many in America today.

Picoult's writing switches narrator throughout the novel, offering the differing perspectives of each main character, varying from Ruth, the hard-working black nurse who has been wronged, to the eyes of Turk, the father of the baby who supports the white supremacy movement. Each narrator offers that vital insight into the lives of 'the other', whether it's a woman who's life has been affected by race all her life, or the man who views anyone different to himself as scum... Picoult's shift in tone is vital in creating a novel that is well-rounded, and almost keen to showcase everyone as a human who has been poisoned by the social boundaries our world inflicts upon us.

Ruth's character is fiercely protective of her son, and struggles to bond with her sister who is consistently telling her she is not 'black enough', due to her education in a largely white private school, and living in a suburban area opposed to the streets her sister walks. It raises the question of identity, and the role of the black woman in America today, fighting for her voice to be heard amongst her own community as well as the rest of the world.

Picoult also touches on the idea of 'passive racism', forcing the reader to open their eyes wider than the obvious aggressive racism. Asking them to ask why there may only be one black person working in their office, why the only black history covered in education is slavery... It poses a bigger question, and stays under your skin way after the final page.

Small Great Things is riveting, and could have been a real account of a court case occurring in America today. Whilst it follows the same format of Picoult's other novels (drama, flashbacks, court case, verdict...), the story is compelling enough that you could be in the courtroom with the characters, desperately praying the verdict brings justice. A literary triumph, but perhaps a saddening wake up call for the reader, as the story hits so closely to home in 2017.

Read if you...

Love a bit of a court room drama, interested in racial tensions, and don't have much planned for your evenings (you'll want to race home to finish it, trust me).


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