‘I don’t want that nurse touching my baby.’ Those are the instructions from the newborn child’s parents. However, when the baby goes into cardiac arrest, Ruth, a nurse of twenty years’ experience, sees no option but to assist. But the baby dies. And Ruth is charged with negligent homicide.
Ruth is shattered and bewildered as she tries to come to terms with her situation. She finds different kinds of support from her sister, a fiery radical, and her teenage son, but it is to Kennedy McQuarrie, a white middle-class lawyer, to whom she entrusts her case, and her future.
As the two come to develop a truer understanding of each other’s lives, they begin to doubt the beliefs they each hold most dear. In order for the privileged to prosper, they come to realise, others have to suffer. Racism takes many forms, and is reinforced and underpinned by the structures of our society.
I feel more than ever we need books like this in our hands, our friends hands, our parents hands.
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
Small Great things tells the story of being racially prejudice, the systems fundamental flaws, and puts into an easy to understand prospective of what white privilege means.
As all Jodi’s books go this is written from 3 character points of view, Ruth, Turk, and Kennedy.
Ruth is the only person of colour in the hospital she works for, Turk is a neo Nazi and racist in the extremist way possible, Kennedy is a white public defense lawyer that was blind to other problems until she had Ruth to give her a new perspective.
Ruth: “You told me this lawsuit isn’t about race. But that’s what started it. And it doesn’t matter if you can convince the jury I’m the reincarnation of Florence Nightingale—you can’t take away the fact that I am Black. The truth is, if I looked like you, this would not be happening to me.”
Ruth wasn’t raised with money but her mother did everything in her power to get her to a good school and into university. With her mother support and her own determination Ruth becomes a labor and delivery nurse, she’s delivered thousands of babies and has worked at the hospital for 20 years. When she comes on shift one day the parents demand she doesn’t touch their baby and to speak with the head nurse forcing the head nurse into taking Ruth off the case and banning her from touching the child because of the colour of her skin.
Turk is a white supremacist, in his youth he put on his dock martins, shaved his head and went around bashing anyone that didn’t look or believe the same as him; LGBTQA, Jewish, POC… they were all subject to his hate and belief that white people should reign supreme. When he see’s a black nurse caring for his child he loses it, flashing his confederate flag tattoo and pulling all of his anger on her.
Turks POV was the hardest to read I almost wanted to skip the first chapter of his because his beliefs were so far away from my own I couldn’t stand to be in his head. I didn’t feel any sympathy to the man who had just lost his new-born child.
“You say you don’t see color…but that’s all you see. You’re so hyperaware of it, and of trying to look like you aren’t prejudiced, you can’t even understand that when you say race doesn’t matter all I hear is you dismissing what I’ve felt, what I’ve lived, what it’s like to be put down because of the color of my skin.”
Kennedy is a public defense lawyer, her husband is a doctor who earns enough that allows her to do a job that doesn’t pay much. Kennedy defends POC more often than white and flows through the court room knowing that you can’t win if you play the race card and chooses to win through other means just to steer clear of it.
Kennedy isn’t purposefully racist but by not understanding her privilege and social standing she is ignorant. Kennedy is me, the person that could name 10 hair products for myself but none for African hair, the person that doesn’t know what it is like to have to prove yourself to everyone I meet just because of the colour skin I was born with. Being in the journey with Kennedy opened my eyes to the things that I don’t have to worry about just because of my skin colour.
My favourite moments:
- Kennedy’s closing speech
- Ruth explaining to Kennedy’s daughter what slaves meant and their history
- Ruth and Kennedy’s friend ship and honesty with each other
- Ruth doing what is right and realising that to fix a problem it must be addressed no matter what the outcome may be
- Ruth’s son speaking passionately about all the POC in history who don’t get mentioned and dealing with his friends bullying and pulling through for his Mother.
Jodi Picoult actually my most owned Author, I have every book of hers and have read them all, although I can hardly remember some I read them that long ago. My Mum and I always grab the newest Jodi book and read it right away so we can discuss. While I loved this book and the amount of research and sensitivity readers Jodi read it didn’t become my fave from her but I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.
Have you read this? What did you think? Are you a Jodi fan? If so what’s your face book?
Mine is The Storyteller I read it when I was baking and all the descriptions were so perfect and she put so many extra details that I just appreciated so much also the story is amazing as always.