Incredibly powerful and moving, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult is full of honesty and empathy.
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse with 20 years of experience. When Ruth begins a routine check-up of a newborn baby, she’s quickly reassigned cases. The parents are a white supremacist couple and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, on their case. Ruth is told to stay away from the child, however when the team is short staffed she is the only one left to care for him when he goes into cardiac distress. Ruth is left with the impossible decision of whether to obey orders or intervene…
Ruth is charged with a serious crime and we are brought along for the court case that ensues. Small Great Things is told from the perspectives of Ruth, Turk (the white supremacist father of the baby), and Kennedy (Ruth’s lawyer). It was both fascinating (and at times horrifying) to get into the heads of these 3 characters.
I was extremely impressed by Picoult’s ability to make these hard and uncomfortable topics approachable through her writing. To me, this is a book that everyone should read.
It was also really interesting to read about Picoult’s research for the story and motivation for writing this book. I definitely recommend reading her author’s note.
“It just goes to show you: every baby is born beautiful. It’s what we project on them that makes them ugly.”
“…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.”
“She is hunched over in her seat in the gallery, a human question mark, as if her whole body is asking why this happened to us.”