It was just coincidence that I read this book, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, immediately after The Underground Railroad however it was a perfect follow-up. This is a book about race and prejudice set in the modern day which Jodi Picoult has relayed through a story that is both thought provoking and unputdownable.
Small Great Things is the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written. Frank, uncomfortably introspective and right on the day’s headlines, it will challenge her readers …The difficult self awareness is what sustains this book … forcing engaged readers to meditate on their own beliefs and actions along with these characters … It’s also exciting to have a high-profile writer like Picoult take an earnest risk to expand our cultural conversation about race and prejudice. (The Washington Post)
When a newborn baby boy dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt who will be blamed….the black nurse, Ruth, who was banned from looking after him by his white supremacist father. Ruth loses her job but it is Kennedy McQuarrie, a lawyer who defends those who would otherwise be helpless, and would not consider herself a racist by any means who takes on this case.
As we all saw during the riots at Charlottesville recently, white supremacy lives on and so this book takes on real life issues and not imagined ones. How is it to be black, work hard, try to do the right thing by educating your only child, lose your husband in Afghanistan fighting for his country and yet still be considered not as good as a white person? This is Ruth’s story but it is also the story of a lawyer who finds herself defending Ruth by not telling the truth that is staring her in the face.
There is a timely message in this book and the title comes from a quote by Martin Luther King Jr.,
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”
Jodi Picoult is a brilliant story-teller and she loves a moral dilemma – this book must be Jodi Picoult at her best.
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