Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors. I’m 95% certain i’ve read every one of her books and when my mom texted me saying she had picked up a SIGNED copy of her new book Small Great Things, I freaked out a little bit. FIrst off, I knew I had to take extra good care of this book as it was hardcover but it had her signature in it! And so I finished the book i was reading at the time and got to reading.
Not knowing what this book was about, it came as a surprise that it was taking on institutionalized racism head on, by a white woman no less. Racism in the US is a serious issue and I’m only just starting to learn just how deep it goes as well as all the nuances of it. But i won’t get into that now.
Small Great Things follows Ruth Walker, a 20 year veteran of the nursing industry-most notably in the Labour and Delivery ward of a well to do hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. Walker also happens to be black. And after helping deliver the child of two white supremacists, she’s abruptly told via post-it note that she’s no longer able to touch or care for the child since she’s African-American.
Then the baby has a seizure and later dies, while Ruth was in the room alone. The couple charges the hospital and Ruth with murder. And a truckton of page turning intrigue ensues. The great thing about Jodi Picoult’s writing is that she provides back stories for every character involved and you resonate with people you never thought possible.
You learn caveats about Ruth’s upbringing as well as why the white supremacists decided to break off from the KKK and start their own chapter of hatred and violence. You learn how little things suddently turn major when the local pastor takes up your case and exploits it to the media. All these little things you never think about until they’re staying in your own backyard.
THe ending isn’t what I expected in the slightest but it made me address my own internal biases and what I can do to change them. It plays into a theme i’ve been trying to live by in my real life, that it’s time i got comfortable with the uncomfotable. I need to surround myself with stories and narratives that make me a little uncomfy or make me question my own beliefs in order to become a more informed, better person. And this book does just that.
Small Great Things is a must read. It’s wonderfully written, hard to read at times, and deals with a lot of complicated issues. If there’s one book that’ll start conversations at the holiday dinner table this year, this is it.
Favourite Quote: there is nothing more selfish than trying to change someone’s mind brcause they don’t think like you. Just because something is different does not mean it should not be respected.