Small Great Things

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel that I must disclose that I write this review as a white woman.

Ruth Jefferson is a Labour and Delivery nurse with twenty years experience. She is banned from working with the son of a white supremacist because she is of African descendent. She finds herself alone with the baby when he appears to stop breathing and then go into cardiac arrest, ultimately dying. The parents of the baby are angry and blame Ruth. This story goes through the trial of Ruth and the repercussions of being accused of murder. Her Public Defender, Kennedy McQuarrie specifically asks to be Ruth’s lawyer, which is her first murder trial. Along the way Ruth and Kennedy become more than lawyer and client; they become friends. Over the course of the trial Kennedy learns about the privilege of being white in modern American society.

This was a challenging and confronting book. To be shown that even what we think of as politically correct is actually racist hits you fully like a body blow. To say that we don’t see colour is to deny that there is a race issue at all. I never took my white privilege to heart before. I never thought of myself as racist before. To be taken through just a few hours of being the ‘wrong’ colour in todays world is confronting. I’ve never really thought about it before. I’ve defended people of colour on the bus when a male white whacko was verbally berating them on the bus, but does that really make me a non-racist? I just don’t know now.

And that’s the magic of this book. Its more than a story to while away a few hours with and then forget. This book makes you think. It makes you examine your behaviour and beliefs. It pulls into question everything you thought you knew about yourself. And that’s a pretty rare thing for a book to do. Entertaining? Undoubtedly. Life changing? Probably.

Definitely worth the read.

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