Synopsis from GoodReads:
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.
I listened to the audio version of this book, and can I just start by saying… AUDRA MCDONALD, are you kidding me? I couldn’t have dreamed of a better narrator’s voice for the character of Ruth Jefferson. McDonald’s voice is warm and soothing and brought that extra depth to the words that Picoult had written. Regardless of what Ruth went though in the story, she always seemed to have a calmness about her… even when she was terrified. McDonald captured that perfectly. (Also, I could really just listen to her speak all day long.) If this is a book you have in your TBR or have thought about adding it, I highly recommend checking out the audio version.
If there is one rule the other MW Ladies and I agreed on with starting this review blog adventure, was that we never wanted to get political and let me tell you… this is a tough book to review without getting into the political aspect. As usual, Picoult takes us through a very current and controversial topic, gives us key character perspectives, and challenges her readers to put themselves in others’ shoes.
My favorite thing about Picoult’s writing, especially in this book, is how she makes even her most vile characters exhibit relatable human behaviors and emotions. Take Turk Bauer for instance. He is a white supremacist. Based on that character trait alone, it is easy to strongly dislike him altogether. What you don’t expect is to be able to relate to the guy when you realize how much he LOVES his wife. While his anger and vengeance may be wildly misplaced, you can’t help but feel for the grieving father who lost the baby that he and his wife had been anxiously awaiting.
I personally think that any book that makes you feel something is worth reading, and this book gives ALL the feels. Anger, happiness, worry, concern, grief, hope. It maybe even gives us the reminder to take note of our commonalities instead of what just makes us all different. I know it did for me.
Available on Amazon here.
About the author (from GoodReads):
Her new novel, SMALL GREAT THINGS, is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio on October 11th.