Thursday, November 17, 2016


Rating: 4 of 5 stars
"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
That is where Jodi Picoult came up with the title for her newest novel, Small Great Things. She put a great deal of thought and respect in using the civil rights leader's words as her title. This is illustrative of her entire novel. Any reader can clearly tell she read, researched, and reflected as she composed this work of fiction.

The story is based in the northeastern part of the United States in modern day and centers around an African American labor & delivery nurse who was prohibited by her employer from caring for a baby who had the misfortune of being born to parents who identify as white supremacists. As a result, tragedy ensues and a legal drama plays out in this 400+ page novel. As a literary device, Picoult employs varying points-of-view where the chapters switch between Ruth, the African American nurse, Turk, the racist and grieving father, and Kennedy, Ruth's privileged attorney. Picoult emotionally and effectively captured each point-of-view. I was able to sympathize with all of the characters (yes, even the racist) and, of course as a professional African American woman in the U.S., there was a great deal of empathy on my part with Ruth's character. I felt that Picoult was able to capture the essence and mindsets of these people in her book. I would also venture to guess she was able to convey how many feel in present-day America. Her story helped me see other potential perspectives, so I think in that regard, her novel is definitely a success.

[The rest of this review contains information that some might consider spoilers. You've been warned.]


[The rest of this review contains information that some might consider spoilers. You've been twice-warned.]


What I did not like about the book was Ruth's stubbornness at the end of the trial. That did not seem like a realistic decision made by a character who was historically so practical and grounded. Also, while I am sure that a leopard can change spots, I think it was too cliche that Turk completely changed in such a short time frame. The way the author presented this 180 made it seem like she was trying to put the finishing touches on a nicely decorated birthday cake rather than end the novel in a more feasible way. However, I suspect because she introduced Turk as such a detestable character, she was trying to give him some redemption in the end. As a writer, I can certainly see the struggle in finding the balance.

This book is a book club read, and I look forward to discussing this with the members and get even more perspectives to this modern-day social topic when we meet in the spring. If you decide to pick it up, note the length. The book is a little laborious to read because of the language that is used by the racist characters, but I think the ending is a satisfying pay off. And do read the author's note at the end. It helps give the book even more definition.

Recommendation: I recommend this book for the open-minded. I think it's a great book club choice because it offers many points for an excellent exchange of views.

Until next time ... Read on!


Post a Comment