Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult - REVIEW


I have never read a Jodi Picoult book before. It's not out of disinterest, but sometimes when an author gets a lot of hype, or is quite popular, I tend to avoid reading their books. I think part of it is that I'm afraid I won't enjoy their work as much as the hype suggests that I should. When something is talked up a lot and put on a pedestal, it gives it a lot to live up to. I guess I feel its easier to enjoy a book when there are no expectations. Regardless, over the years, I've had interest in a few Jodi Picoult books, but it wasn't until her recent work, Small Great Things was released, that I finally decided to give her a try. I will say that I'm glad that I did, and that she certainly has lived up to the hype.

Small Great Things tells many stories all woven into one. It is a story of racism, and prejudice, while also being a story of hate. It follows Ruth Jefferson, an African-American nurse of twenty years, who works in a Labor & Delivery ward in an East Coast hospital. It tells the story of her and her life experiences, while also exploring those of people very different from her: white supremacists.

Unfortunate events bring the two groups to be pitted directly against each other when Ruth is accused of the murder of the son of a white supremacist couple. Her lawyer, insists that Ruth's race has nothing to do with this accusation, and seeks to avoid the subject all together during the trial.

Throughout the book, we learn more about each character - their flaws, as well as their talents. We learn about their life chances, as well as their set backs. The characters also learn from each other, and grow from these learning experiences.

Without going to deep into the story (I always try to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible), I will say that the story was both frustrating and lovely. I think that Picoult captured the emotions you would expect from all the characters exceptionally. Small Great Things is a book that explores racism, in particular, through law and order. Both of these aspects were what drew me to the book. I enjoy exploring conflicts within our society, whether fictional or otherwise, and I have always had an interest in law and order. While the book is fictional, it explores very real issues within our society. It explores how race dictates or controls our life chances, especially in regard to the criminal justice system. Picoult challenges us to consider our own lives and prejudices, while she weaves and unweaves that of her characters.

Small Great Things is a lovely book and has definitely piqued my interest in Jodi Picoult's work (I'm just not sure where to go from here in terms of her work...what's next??).  The ending was surprising, which I always appreciate because I find that I'm often able to correctly guess the ending of a story. A talent I both love, and hate! The writing was great - and the book itself was difficult to put down. While it was nearly 500 pages, I flew through it in a matter of days.

Small Great Things is a book worth reading - especially if you are like me and enjoy books that highlight real life issues, law and order, or just suspenseful books that make it difficult for you to put them down, leaving you sacrificing sleep or other important life tasks so you can just...keep...reading.

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