- TOP CLUB PICKS
- BOOK SPOTLIGHT
- AUTHOR CHATS
by Jodi Picoult
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead readers to question everything ...
How would you rate this book?
Jodi Picoult does not shy away from difficult issues. Race in America is timely and possibly the most challenging issue this author has tackled. White privilege and being black in America are handled with grace. The characters are compelling. This is a book that will make you question yourself and should not only be read, but discussed.
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.
so most of the reviews of this book are very good And I will say i enjoyed the read. having said that I do agree with many of the criticisms...typical Jodi Picoult book in that its a story with a message and a current 'social" cause of the day; pretty predictable;
But if you don't mind those critiques, it is a good read.
Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult, author, Cassandra Campbell, Audra McDonald, Ari Fliakos, Narrators
Jodi Picoult has written a well researched and really difficult exposé on race relations and just what those two words really mean, in this, her latest book. She believes that there will be those on all sides of the issue who will find fault with her novel, but she also strongly believes that it had to be written. The pages turn themselves as the reader will be riveted to the story as it develops.
The novel is about a nurse, Ruth Jeffries, who is suddenly prohibited from treating a male newborn because of her skin color. Ruth Jeffries is a black labor and delivery nurse. Brit and Turk Bauer, the, young, proud parents of their infant son, Davis, are White Supremacists. Ruth is rightly offended when her superior agrees with the Bauer’s who have refused to have her, a person of color, interact with either their child or them. Ruth is summarily removed from the case.
The mother of Davis is Brit Bauer. She grew up without a mother and, instead, was raised by her father Francis, a leader of a white supremacist movement. Her husband, Kurt Bauer, was basically her father’s protégé. On his head, he had a tattoo of a swastika. On the knuckles of each hand was a word. On one it said love and on the other hate. He ran a racist blog. Neither he nor his wife had ever learned how to handle their anger in any other way than to strike out and viciously hurt others. They have actually enjoyed their violent impulses and relished in the pain they caused others. It seemed to be the only way they could relieve their own anger and pain. Yet, while Kurt is cruel to others, he is kind to Brit.
Ruth was a very experienced nurse with two decades of experience under her belt. She was the only nurse of color on the neonatal floor. She was well thought of and had an excellent reputation, but after she was removed from the care of the child by her superior, she discovered that her friendship with the other staff members was actually superficial. When, in a terrible tragedy, the child, Davis Bauer, dies after a routine circumcision, no one supports her when the Bauers accuse her of murder. Rather their fingers point in her direction, and they find it too easy to assume she might have actually deliberately killed the baby in an act of vengeance against his parents. She finds herself alone. The friendships she believed she had in the hospital were only a façade. Many of her so called friends and co-workers were only too eager to make her out to be the villain in the emergency situation that took the life of Davis Bauer, even though they had placed her in the impossible situation of saving the life of a child she was forbidden to touch. In desperation, she turns to her sister, someone who lives in the ghetto, someone whom she has tried to rise above and therefore distance herself from. She finds solace there, even though she does not agree with all of her sister’s ideas, she knows she will be the only one there for her and her son, Edison. Ruth is a widow. Her husband was killed fighting for the United States, in Afghanistan.
When the police broke into her apartment, handcuffed her son and herself, then trashed her home searching it, she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was because of her skin color that they were being treated so roughly. She was hauled off in the middle of the night in her nightgown and arraigned. Until this point, she had believed that she was accepted in the wider world of whites as an equal. She spoke well, was highly educated and got her nursing degree from Yale University. She led a quiet life with a low profile, living in a middle class white neighborhood so that her son Edison could get a better education. She wanted him to grow up in a world that was colorblind. She was naïve. That was not the real world. She had merely hoped that if she believed it, she could make it real; she wanted to believe that she might fit into the world of the whites.
Kennedy McQuarrie was a Public Defender who believed she was colorblind. She was in for a rude awakening. As they got to know each other, Ruth and Kennedy learned to see the world through each other’s eyes. Kennedy had a lot to learn from Ruth and Ruth had her eyes opened by Kennedy. Kennedy, however, learned far more. She discovered that race was indeed an issue even when it was denied as one. When leaving a store together, it was Ruth’s packages that were inspected to see if she had shoplifted; it was Ruth’s ID that was demanded while Kennedy was ignored and waved on without a moment’s hesitation. She was not suspect. She was white. Even the reader who believed there was not a racist bone in his/her body, both black and white, will discover that underneath every rock, there is a seed hiding, even when one is least aware of its presence.
At first, I was one of the people that the author said would find fault with her book. I didn’t like the fact that she painted one group with a broad brush as if only they were racists and Progressives were the Saints waiting in the wings. Personally, I do not believe that Fox News or all Conservatives are racist as a group, in the way she depicted them. However, as she developed her narrative, it became more apparent that she was aiming for another, larger truth in which everyone had shared blame for the racism that is denied in society, and that truth pointed to a larger group that crossed color, cultural, religious and political lines. She titled the book with part of a quote from Martin Luther King, and its brevity belies its profundity. In essence, at the core of this story is the definition of the words equality vs. equity, with equity developing as the most meaningful goal and the lack of it is a broad and plausible explanation of the problems that lie behind the subtle racism that exists everywhere, even where it is denied the loudest.
I believe the book could have a great impact on those who read it. In its honesty, it is forthright; in its understanding of the underlying causes of racism, it is intuitive; in its relationship to true events, it is inspired; in its pretending that racism does not exist, it exposes the pretense that itself is a form of racism.
Based on events that occurred in the real world this book twists and turns from tragedy to fairytale and its surprise ending comes out of the blue. However, it is the reality of the resemblance to actual events that prevents the book from crossing over into the land of fairytales, at times.
Picoult uses the terms equity vs. equality to describe the tragedy of racism. According to her, equality sounds fair, but it is equity that is fair. One is for show, the other is for real. One demands only equivalence and uniformity; the other demands justice and impartiality, both of which appear to be largely absent in today’s society.
***The narrators added a greater depth to this story than the print book, I think, and I recommend it.
So many topics to discuss with this book. It was the highest rated book we had read in 4 years. Difficult in part for some, wholly satisfying to all. Can't recommend I t highly enough
The book developed characters quickly with back stories that were informative and with great insight.
The plot development gave the reader an opportunity to challenge their own belief systems and awareness of others and their set of circumstances. We all aren't offered the same life opportunities! The book is timely and although difficult at times - challenging because of its topic it is an important read
Very well written. Eye opening
An insightful tale of racism and discrimination. Eye opening description of white privilege. Put your thinking cap on for this one and do some soul searching at the same time if you are white.
An exceptional book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The issues and how they were raised and the self awareness that ensued were very well developed.
This book made me squirm... but isn't that a good thing? This is my first time to read Picoult, and I was immediately drawn into her well-developed characters and beautiful writing. I found myself marking more individual passages than I have in the last few books that I have read. I highly recommend this book for anyone who needs some reflection on the way we view others. I look forward to a good discussion when our book club finishes this title.
This book by far generated the most discussion at our book club. It is perfect for book clubs! Race is such a hot topic these days. Jodi Picoult does what she does best and makes you think about things from another perspective.
Gripping story with an excellent exploration of implicit bias and the golf of understanding between groups. The strong need to really discuss difficult subjects.
This book was captivating, involved excellent research, told a difficult, but riveting story. Character development was very well done, one gets caught up in their lives. It fostered great discussion on issues at our book club.
I adored the premise of this story and applaud how Jodi Picoult told the tale. She creates empathy for the characters and an insight into a difficult topic. It was a great discussion for our group.
Ms Picoult put into words what I have only thought at times. She wrote each character as if it was that person writing what was taking place at his or her time. She stepped out of her comfort zone in order to give the reader an insight into other peoples lives.
Such a touching and interesting approach to racism in today's world. Really enjoyed all of the characters who were absolute products of their environments and how their personal growth brought them closer together in the midst of tragedy.
Join the leading website for book clubs with over 35,000 clubs and 20,000 reading guides.
Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more