Jodi is a tour de force in contemporary literature, and her latest book is no exception. Small Great Things is a book that is timely and tackles the difficult subject of racism in America.
In this book, an African American nurse named Ruth is on trial after a baby in her care dies. This baby’s parents are white supremacists who had requested that Ruth not be allowed to touch their child. But when the baby starts having a medical emergency when Ruth is on duty, she has to make a decision whether to jump in anyway or respect the parents’ racist request.
This book is told from three different perspectives: the nurse, her public defender, and the white supremacist father. It took me quite a while to get into this book, but the ending was really great. While a lot of characters seem to rely on stereotypes, I felt like there were really good intentions by the author, and I think that a lot of people will hopefully understand the world a little better after reading this book.
I found that I identified with the public defender’s perspective more than the other two perspectives, so I enjoyed those sections more. However, the sections from Ruth the nurse’s perspective were also very enlightening. I’m sure Picoult was trying to be balanced by including the white supremacist father’s perspective as well, but I must admit that I skimmed over most of his portions and rolled my eyes a lot. I know people like him exist in the world, but it’s pretty impossible to sympathize with him in any way.
Overall, I think this is a good book with a slow beginning. However, the ending more than makes up for the beginning. I would definitely recommend this one to people looking for contemporary fiction. This doesn’t tackle racism as deeply as other books do, but it is still a good read.