EXCERPT: The courtroom sizzles like a griddle. People start booing, and raising up signs with my son’s face on them – a picture I uploaded to the website, the only one I have of him. Then the nurse is brought in, wearing a nightgown and shackles on her wrists. She is looking around the gallery. I wonder if she’s trying to find me.
I decide to make it easy for her.
In one swift movement, I’m on my feet and leaning over the low railing that separates us from the lawyers and stenographer. I take a deep breath and hurl a gob of spit that smacks the bitch on the side of the face.
I can tell the second she recognizes me.
Instantly I am flanked by bailiffs who drag me out of the courtroom, but that’s okay, too. Because even as I’m pulled away, the nurse will see the swastika snaking down the back of my scalp.
It’s okay to lose a battle, when you are in it to win the war.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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.
MY THOUGHTS: What can I possibly say about this book that hasn’t been said before? It is compelling reading, and everyone should be compelled to read it. I felt guilty. I am like Kennedy. I grew up white middle class. I have never considered myself racist. But after reading Small Great Things, I know that I am. I am guilty. I am trying to do better. I aim to succeed.
In the author’s own words ‘Of all my novels, this book will stand out for me because of the sea of change it inspired in the way I think about myself, and because it made me aware of the distance I have yet to go when it comes to racial awareness.’
And that is the point of Picoult’s book. Small Great Things is a not so small, truly great read. Please read the author’s note about how this book came to be written. And share the book, as this was shared with me.
THE AUTHOR: Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-four novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to my daughter-in-law, Neisha Comins, for giving me this wonderful book to read. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2568376638