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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – Not Just A Review

Book Review of Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Author: Jodi Picoult

Published By: Hodder & Stoughton

Pages: 509

Genre: Novel, Legal story

How did I come to read this book?

I had heard a great deal about this book. And of course, who doesn’t like Jodi Picoult’s works. So, without sparing a second thought I bought this book. In this post, I am going to pen down my opinion regarding this book.

The Plot

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Book Review

This book is about a black nurse, a white supremacist, a dead baby and the course of gut wrenching, eye opening events in their lives that change their lives and perceptions forever. Ruth, a labor and delivery nurse at Mercy west Haven hospital, who has worked for more than 20 years at the hospital, attends Davis Bauer, a newborn baby born to Turk and Brittany Bauer.

Ruth performs all the duties expected out of her. But Turk Bauer, the newborn’s father, a white supremacist finds his blood boiling seeing a black nurse touching his baby. He immediately calls the supervisor and demands her to dismiss Ruth from handling his baby. Ruth is upset seeing the hospital administration silently supporting the blatant discrimination against her. Things however take a wrong direction when Davis Bauer lands up in an emergency and the only nurse available at that time is the nurse Turk Bauer has restricted touching his baby, Ruth. Ruth caught in a dilemma, performs the duties of a nurse ignoring the ‘post it note’ in the baby’s file that states ‘No African-American personnel..’. In spite of every possible try, the baby dies and Turk Bauer misinterprets Ruth’s attempt to save the baby as she trying to avenge by killing him.

Turk Bauer threatens to sue the hospital over his son’s death and the hospital aptly puts the charges on Ruth. As a result, Ruth loses her license and worse, one night cops enter her house, cause havoc, tie down her son-Edison, and arrest her in her night clothes. Soon this case attracts the eye of the media and becomes the talk of the town. Here comes in our story Kennedy, our ninja lawyer. Kennedy, being public defender takes up Ruth’s case and digs into the details of Davis Bauer’s death and who was his murderer. On the final day of hearing things change all of their lives forever.

The character I loved the most from this book…

The character that I loved the most from this novel is that of Kennedy. Kennedy is a practical woman who is juggling between being a mother of a four year kid and a public defender. Throughout the story, it is evident that she is a careful parent and a very dedicated and ambitious public defender. Being a white she has a difficult time to convince Ruth that she is not being racist, that the case is not related to Ruth’s skin color and why they would lose if they bring up the matter of racism in the court. She knew she was never a racist and that skin color hardly mattered to her.

But after spending time with Ruth she opened her eye to the prejudice that existed in the society, Ruth’s frustration of not being treated equal in spite of equal qualifications, the black population’s hardships and how this case had everything to do with Ruth’s skin color. She realizes and rectifies her mistake and her monologue towards the end is eye-opening. The icing on the cake, however, is the little bit of humor that she carried with herself all through out the story.

The character I had the most empathy for….

Of course, Ruth. Ruth, is a victim of racism. She tries hard to blend in the society, she tries hard to believe that education can screen her skin color, she is oversensitive and notices the small racist things people do subconsciously. She is frustrated at the things she is subjected to, the situation she has to face and the humiliation and hate that has been thrown at her because she is black. Her license is cancelled by the hospital she worked for 20 years, her morality is questioned on public forum, she is helpless seeing her prodigy son go in the wrong direction and she bears the consequences of something she had no control over makes me feel sorry and empathetic for her.

However she stands strong and is unafraid to raise her voice against the ill treat by the white orthodox.

I love the way Jodi Picoult has shaped her character. She is worth an inspiration.

Gut wrenching moments from the story:

Book Review

‘I don’t want her or anyone who looks like her touching my son,’ the father interrupts, and he folds his arms across his chest. He’s pushed up his sleeves while I was out of the room. Running from wrist to elbow on one arm is the tattoo of a Confederate flag. Marie stops talking. For a moment, I honestly don’t understand. And then it hits me with the force of a blow: they don’t have a problem with what I’ve done. Just with who I am.

He’s the only dead baby there. His limbs are still pliable, his skin hasn’t taken on a chill. There’s mottling in his cheeks and feet, but that is the only clue that he is anything other than what he seems to be at first glance: someone’s beloved. I lean against a steel gurney, cradling him the way I would have, if I’d been allowed to. I whisper his name and pray for his soul. I welcome him into this broken world and, in the same breath, say goodbye.

I am wide awake now, being dragged in my nightgown and slippers down my porch steps so that I stumble and scrape my knee on the pavement before I am pushed headfirst into the back of a police car. I pray to God that my neighbors, who have been wide awakened by the hullabaloo in our sleepy neighborhood at 3:00 A.M., and who stand in their doorways with their white faces reflecting the moon, will ask themselves one day why they remained silent, not a single one asking if there was anything they could do to help.

I sit on the edge of the bed, then tuck myself under her arm for a moment, lying with my ear against her still chest. This is the last chance I will have to be her baby. It is a strange thing, being suddenly motherless. It’s like losing a rudder that was keeping me on course, one that I never paid much mind to do before now.

‘You think you are respected member of a community – the hospital where you work, the town you live. I had a wonderful job. I had colleagues who were friends. I lived in a home I was proud of. But it was just an optical illusion. I was never a member of any of those communities. I was tolerated, but not welcomed. I was, and will always be different from them.’ She looks up. ‘And because of the colour of my skin, I will be the one who’s blamed.

My favorite quotes from this book:

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Book Review
Freedom is the fragile neck of a daffodil, after the longest of winters. It’s the sound of your voice, without anyone drowning you out. It’s having the grace to say yes, and more important, the right to say no.
How many exceptions do there have to be before you start to realize that maybe the truths you’ve been told aren’t actually true?
I knew that sometimes when people spoke, it wasn’t because they had something important to say. It was because they had a powerful need for someone to listen.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
The best lies are the ones that are wrapped around a core of truth
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
There are just some feelings, I’ve learned, for which we never invented the right words.
Book Review
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
It is amazing how you can look in a mirror your whole life and think you are seeing yourself clearly. And then one day, you peel off a filmy gray layer of hypocrisy, and you realize you’ve never truly seen yourself at all.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Book Review
It is better not knowing the ugly truth, and pretending it doesn’t exist? Or is it better to confront it, even though the knowledge may be a weight you carry around forever?
Pride is an evil dragon; it sleeps underneath your heart and then roars when you need silence.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
That’s just what they want: for you to doubt yourself. As long as they can make you think you’re not worthy, they still got you in chains.

My Review :-

Stories that champion a social cause have always intrigued me. So, for me this book is a hit. Firstly, Picoult has given the three major characters- Ruth, Turk and Kennedy enough space to showcase their point of views and their part of the story. This makes the narration of the story come out clear. Secondly, she tries her best to be neutral with all characters. Thirdly and most importantly, she subtly underlines the harm that hate causes to both the bearer and the receiver.

It’s an uplifting, thought provoking and heart wrenching novel that I would surely recommend all my friends to read.



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