This book was offered in the summer of 2016 as a challenge. Would I pick up Anonymous – Can you #ReadWithoutPrejudice? 480 pages without prejudice? I nodded and it took me a 7+ hours to read it entirely without a second a regret. The book later was ‘revealed’ as Small Great Things by New York Times best seller author Jodi Picoult.
African American Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at Connecticut New-Haven hospital. She’s a widow, her man died in combat. Her 17-year-old son, Edison, is pursuing college. Ruth is a role model, valued and with more than 20 years of experience, a great asset in the birth wing. On a routine checkup on a newborn, Davis, she’s told not to touch the baby ever again by its parents, Turk and Britt Bauer, because of her race. As white supremacist in the U.S., a swastika on the back of the scalp and a Confederate Flag tattooed on the arm, they’re fully entitled to express their opinions and wishes. The hospital concedes, but the next morning Ruth is called in to replace other staff members and is left with….Davis Bauer. After his circumcision, the child is suffering a cardiac distress. What’s Ruth supposed to do? Help the child, do nothing, or doing too much or the wrong thing, while feeling so upset about the practiced racism?
The parents seek a scapegoat for causing the death of their Davis. The State charges Ruth Jefferson for murder. The author switches between Ruth, Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, and Turk Bauer as protagonist along the court case. Rich conversation, well-developed characters, and many unexpected twists address morality, truth and lies, the convictions of the white power movement, racial profiling, and the difficulty of unbiased listening and really understanding each other. Equality versus equity, the build-up of a grand jury, support from unknowns, and the luring media attention. Will justice be done? And how Aryan white or African black is your own bloodline?
Can anyone win in this case? Small Great Things is a great book that tackles sensitive topics and challenges the reader with countless questions way beyond the final page.
About the author
Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-three novels, including Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She is also the author, with daughter Samantha van Leer, of two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.
The publisher, Pinguin Random House, offered me a free review copy through Netgalley in exchange for my personal, unbiased review upon reading.