Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Side note before I jump into my review: for the longest time, I've wanted a front porch more than any other unnecessary amenity a house can offer. Well, friends, we finally have a front porch with our new home in Frisco. It's a little too hot and mosquito-ridden to sit out here for hours on end reading, and we still need to get new furniture for it, but I am in love!

Okay, moving on to the real reason you're here. Pardon my aside.

It may seem as though I say this after every book I read, but I recently finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, and oh my goodness, guys, this one moved me more than I have ever been moved by a work of fiction. Its Goodreads rating (4.36/5) speaks for itself, and it was recently named a finalist for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction by the University of Alabama law school and the American Bar Association Journal, but let me tell you why I loved it so much.

It's raw. It's believable. It's powerful. And it felt like I could have been reading a true story (sadly). It tackles some of the most difficult topics we deal with in today's society, and it does so in a way that challenges readers to dig deeper into their own biases and what shapes those biases, and ultimately, how those biases negatively affect others and the world in which we live.

Let me back up before I get too carried away and forget to tell you what the book is about.

Small Great Things is about Ruth, a seasoned Labor and Delivery nurse (20 years of experience at that), who one day is removed from a patient's care because of the color of her skin. Davis Bauer is a newborn baby, and Davis' parents are white supremacists who do not want Ruth caring for their child because, quite frankly, she's black. A few days later, while Ruth is the only hospital staff member in the nursery where Davis is recovering from a routine surgery, the unthinkable happens and Ruth finds herself thrust into a legal battle she never dreamed would include her as the defendant, all while trying to convince her public defender, Kennedy, that this case, and so much beyond that, truly is about race.

Y'all. I seriously felt like I was reading the true account of a story that has actually happened in our country. That is the power of Jodi Picoult's writing. She writes the story from three different perspectives—Ruth's, Kennedy's, and Davis' father, Turk's—but you still find yourself engulfed in Ruth's story as the protagonist.

Speaking of Turk, Picoult's impeccable ability to shape characters shines brightly in her characterization of Turk. Why in the world should I feel bad for this man? Oddly enough, I seriously found myself thinking Turk deserved my pity, and I credit the way Picoult describes his feelings and enhances his character with his inner monologues for almost (ALMOST) making me feel sorry for him.

I cannot stress enough how important this novel is; I truly believe everyone (and I mean everyone) should read it. Jodi Picoult had me crying by page 11. On that page, she wrote something that resonated with my soul as a teacher, as a new mom, and as a human being:

"It just goes to show you: every baby is born beautiful. It's what we project on them that makes them ugly."

From there, I was hooked, and I know you will be, as well.

Have you read Small Great Things? What did you think? No spoilers, please!

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