“What if, ladies and gentlemen, today I told you that anyone here who was born on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday was free to leave right now? Also, they’d be given the most central parking spots in the city, and the biggest houses. They would get job interviews before others who were born later in the week, and they’d be taken first at the doctor’s office, no matter how many patients were waiting in line. If you were born from Thursday to Sunday, you might try to catch up – but because you were straggling behind, the press would always point to how inefficient you are. And if you complained, you’d be dismissed for playing the birth-day card.” I shrug. “Seems silly, right? But what if on top of these arbitrary systems that inhibited your chances for success, everyone kept telling you that things were actually pretty equal?”
Hello, my bookish friends. I hope you’re doing great. I’m pretty sure everyone knows Jodi Picoult, because she’s quite popular. I only read Between The Lines three years ago, and I loved it. And ever since then, I’ve been wanting to read more of her books. So, when I picked up Small Great Things, I had high expectations of the story, and honestly, this book exceeded all of them, and I didn’t think it would affect me this much. Without further ado, let’s review this book!
This book follows the story of an African American woman named Ruth. She is a labor and delivery nurse. One day at the hospital, a new baby is born. So, Ruth goes to the baby to examine him and make sure he’s fine. While she’s doing her job, the father tells her that he doesn’t want her to touch his baby, and he wants another nurse. Ruth feels so upset about the fact that he only told her that because she’s black. The next morning, while Ruth is monitoring the baby, his heart starts to collapse. Even though she was told not to touch the baby, she starts CPR, because at this moment nothing matters except keeping this baby’s alive. But, when the father sees her, he decides to file a lawsuit, because he believes she killed his son out of hate. A few days later, Ruth is charged with murder, and her medical license is suspended. After that, her case is taken by a white public defender named Kennedy. Ruth finds out that the baby’s parents are white supremacist, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to see her in prison. However, Kennedy tells Ruth that if she wants to win the case, she shouldn’t talk about racism in court.
The story is told through three points of view. Ruth who’s an African American nurse that has a son named Edison. Turk who’s a white supremacist and the father of the baby. And Kennedy, who’s a white public defender. We get to hear everyone’s side of the story which is really interesting. Because each one has a different opinion about the murder case.
Ruth has lived her life doing everything as she was told. She raised her son Edison, and he’s a smart kid. She’s worked in the hospital more than twenty years, yet none of her friends there stood up for her when Turk blamed her. They told her she was exaggerating, but she knew that had nothing to do with how she felt, it was about her race. I sympathized with her, because she went through so much to become a nurse. Her mom taught her to work harder and not complain. She dedicated herself to her job, yet that wasn’t enough. And it was heartbreaking.
Turk’s chapters in the book were the hardest for me to read. Because he made me sick to my stomach. He’s all about violence and hurting black people. Even his wife was a white supremacist, and she encouraged him to hurt more people. They’re both disgusting. And they bonded over hate instead of love. Reading about his life literally made me want to vomit.
Kennedy is Ruth’s defender. She’s really good at her job, and she’s willing to help Ruth no matter what. But, she had no idea what Ruth has endured her entire life. And she learned a lot from her. I really liked how they became friends, even though sometimes things were intense between them.
This book is based on a true story, and real people. And it’s such a powerful story that deals with important, and heavy topics. Like racism, white supremacy, violence. And I have to admit that it was an uncomfortable read, because it made me aware of things that I haven’t thought about before, and it made me remember so many moments when people I know, made a racial joke or comment on someone, because their skin color was different. I wish I could go back in time and say something. There were moments in the book that showed acts of racism that most people don’t really pay close attention to. Like when Ruth went to the supermarket with Kennedy, and when they were leaving, the security guard asked Ruth to step aside, so he can search her bags, even though he knew she paid for them. Why didn’t he ask Kennedy instead? I felt angry for what happened to Ruth, and I didn’t imagine the story would get into me that deeply.
I’m really fond of the book title, and it carries a good meaning. The small things that all of the characters did, led them to have great things in the future. I still don’t know how to feel about the end of the book, because it’s too idealistic. Regardless, I loved this book. To wrap up my review, Small Great Things is a thought provoking story about racial discrimination, white supremacy, and what happens in court when those issues are discussed. It’s the kind of book that you want to talk about with other people. I highly recommend it.