Small Great Things

Author Jodi Picoult

“racism is also about who has power…and who has access to it.”

Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things

I finished this book a few nights ago and since then, all my spare thoughts have wandered to it and the people within. Sign of a good read really, when you hark back to moments and characters.

We follow the inner and external turmoil a Black labour and delivery nurse goes through when she is accused of negligence after the baby of a white supremacist dies. Ruth has been a nurse for over twenty years when the story begins, Turk is the father of a new born who insists Ruth will not have any charge over his son, because of her race. Kennedy is the lawyer who takes Ruth’s case when they meet at Ruth’s preliminary hearing. The style of storytelling makes you feel the fears, hopes and disappointment that each of these characters go through.

I was afraid going into this book, afraid that what sounded like an interesting premise would disappoint in execution. It really doesn’t. Instead, I found myself cringing and wincing throughout Turk’s portions, yes, because he has some truly vile thoughts. But also because in seeing from his perspective we learn that he isn’t born racist, I don’t think anyone is. He is slowly, gradually conditioned and taught to hate others.

A strong and important book that discusses race, identity, belonging, acceptance, well meaning white knights and equity v equality. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth in this book. One star less as I felt we needed another perspective, we needed more of Edison and we needed more of Adisa; it’s not a weaker book without these but it could have been a stronger case with it.

Read it for the difficult questions posed and the somewhat reasonable ideas it offers.

Four stars*

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