Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult
Picoult’s books are on my to-read shelves, but I just never get around to reading them. I’m not sure why. The last one I read was several years ago, My Sister’s Keeper. I added this to my growing pile simply because of all the controversy it created, and I was not disappointed. This was a story that tackles race and prejudice. Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse with more than twenty years of experience. She is great at her job and her coworkers would agree. This all changes when Ruth, an African American, is told to keep away from the newborn son of white supremacists. Later, Ruth is alone with the baby in the nursery when it goes into cardiac arrest. What should Ruth do? Ruth hesitates before helping which leads to criminal charges against Ruth. Picoult always does an excellent job showing the readers the viewpoints of several of the main characters. This book was no exception. The story is told through the eyes of Ruth, Kennedy McQuarrie (the public defender assigned to Ruth), and Turk Bauer (the white supremacist father). So it is not just a story being told about racism through a black woman’s eyes, but through the eyes of Kennedy McQuarrie who acknowledges and faces how privileged she is simply by being born white. Kennedy is able to use this revelation to truly understand and help Ruth. We are also given some insight into the mind of Turk Bauer, which is difficult to read at times. I instantly loathed him when I read the first sentence from his point of view. Being white, this story really made me think hard about racism and white privilege. This was a hard book to read and took me a lot longer because I would have to put it down. However, I think it is a message many of us need to hear. I would highly recommend this book.
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