Books are written to start a conversation. To make us think. I've been a fan of Jodi Picoult's for many years now. Many of her books tackle conundrums- from school shootings (Nineteen Minutes) to the death penalty (Change of Heart), Picoult creatively weaves her stories in ways that leave us thinking about them long after turning the last page. Admittedly, I haven't enjoyed all of her books. However, her later books (those more recently published) I often find "unputdownable". Her latest novel, Small Great Things is one of those books. Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion in Small Great Things. The book does not offer any answers, but it does offer a start to conversation. A conversation, as the Washington Post wrote: [that] "...will challenge her readers . . . [and] expand our cultural conversation about race and prejudice.”
Small Great Things is one of Picoult's best books yet. The book held my interest from start to finish. Not only that, I learned along the way, too. I always enjoy reading books written in first person and the book is written in this fashion. It is written from several perspectives, offering all sides of the story. What is the book about? Told mainly from two perspectives, Ruth is a dedicated nurse with a twenty-year career in Labor and Delivery. A young couple arrive to the hospital to deliver their first child. The parents are white supremacists and immediately demand that Ruth not be their nurse. The supervisor tells Ruth and places a note in the couples file stating to no African-Americans are to work with the young couple. At this point, both Ruth and the young couples lives take a dramatic turn. The story is then told from each of their points of view. One reviewer on Amazon (carilynp) said it best: "Some books make you think. Some books turn you to a fantasy world. Some books make you step outside of yourself and think how others feel. SMALL GREAT THINGS makes you think, step outside of yourself, take another's perspective, and re-think your beliefs, and step outside of the fantasy world you have been living in, where all people are treated equally. It is both disturbing, heartbreaking and enlightening."
The book is based on a true story. At the end of the book, Picoult leaves a note to her readers, letting us know about the depth of research she performed and where various elements of the story came from (I always love when authors do this!). Picoult admits this was a difficult subject to tackle and that she had been wanting to write a book on this topic for years, but never felt she could. After hearing about the true story in which she based the book on, she felt she was ready to begin researching and writing the book. The clever title of the book, Small Great Things, comes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, when he said: "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way."
I've rated the book 5-stars and highly recommend this read. Whether you're already a Picoult fan or you've never read one of her books, this is one to pick up. It is a difficult, uncomfortable book to read. But it does what books are supposed to do. It opens the door to start a conversation on an important topic.
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