Surrey, UK

Small great things - Jodi Picoult

Wednesday 17 January 2018



Genre: Fiction/Legal story
Published: 5th October 2016
How long it took me to read it: 6 days

I started reading this book on the 20th of December, so overall it took me six days of on and off reading to finish it. There is almost as much to say about the author as there is about the book. Jodi Picoult is probably most famous for her novel, My sister's keeper.  Small great things follows a similar macabre theme. This book contains 503 pages of narrative and the chapters flit between three different perspectives which centre around one main story. Without spoiling the ending, the tale includes a black, African-American nurse, her lawyer and a modern-day, white supremacist man. The nurse's field is labour and delivery and as fate would have it, she is assigned to assist the white supremacist man's baby. Unfortunately, the newborn dies during his circumcision, an apparently simple procedure. The black nurse is then accused of purposely murdering the infant and that's where the lawyer comes in, as she tries to defend the nurse being held accountable for a crime that she may not have committed, due to the colour of her skin. 

What I found so gripping about this books was the reality that existed in it. The idea of the nurse facing the situation of prejudice in her job because of the colour of her skin is something that could still take place today. There are two main characters which I feel Picoult uses to comment on how far racism has come. First of all, there is Turk, the white supremacist, who sadly lost his baby. Turk is an extreme example of racism and how old-fashioned these ideas are. However, there is also the nurse's lawyer, Kennedy. Kennedy is a white woman, who has never experienced anything close to the topics mentioned in the case, however, she feels qualified enough to take it on and represent Ruth, the nurse. Ruth was the only black nurse working in the small hospital, however, Kennedy never mentions this in the case or draws attention to all of the other nurses being white. This highlights an almost casual racism idea that is set in society. Yes, the ideas surrounding race has changed massively and thankfully, most people no longer hold the ideals like Turk within society. However, Kennedy represents a still very current problem. Kennedy doesn’t openly say that she believes there is any difference between how black people and white people are treated within work environments. However, she openly ignores the biases as well, making her not part of the solution. 

The ending of this book will have you in tears as by the end of the trial when you find out the verdict (which I won't spoil), you feel so connected to each character because, through each chapter, you have walked in their shoes. You have heard their thoughts and feelings, straight from them, as each chapter focuses on the three different perspectives. 
The reason why I gave this book four hearts out of five, rather than giving it the full five is that of the length. The novel is very large which makes it come across as very intimating from the get-go. I am a very fast reader, but this book took me a while because of the length. Although, the story is jam-packed full of details and does a good job of connecting with the reader. When I got down to the last five/four chapters, I was finding it more of a chore to read. I wanted it to end, I wanted to know the conclusion. I had been set up throughout the book feeling like I knew the characters, I had heard their points of view on nearly every subject. I knew their families and what mental state they were in, but I wanted to know what was going to happen to them. I felt like this book dragged on a little too long, but none the less, I was happy with the ending.

I like to conclude every review on a positive. At the very end of the novel, the reader gets a short chapter a few years after the trial. We hear from Ruth, the nurse and the white supremacist, Turk. I will try again not to spoil the ending, but the reader needed that closure that the last chapter offered.  They needed to know what happened to the characters that they had fallen in love with throughout the novel. It restores the happiness in an otherwise, extremely sad book. Without this, I feel like it would be a hard read because there is so much reality present in it, that otherwise, I would finish reading the book feeling downhearted on the society I live in. 

No spoilers, but the ending is a good one. 

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  1. I've now read the book, totally agree with your great review


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