Small Great Things got me interested in it for its Title. Don’t we often hear and are made to believe that it’s the small things in life which count for the greater and the bigger happenings? Small Great Things meant this to me. So, I added a sample of the book to my amazon kindle account.
The sample piece or the first chapter introduces an African American child, her family, and with the scene where her mother assists the lady, for whom she works for, in delivering her baby. The delivery affected the protagonist, Ruth, who saw it when she was still a child, so much that she decided to become a
Reading the sample and the blurb I thought the story would revolve around Ruth, the hospital she works at, and some court scenes considering mention of an attorney in the blurb. But, I was totally unaware of what was stored in the book for me.
Ruth Jefferson is an African American who works at the Connecticut hospital as a labour and delivery nurse with over twenty years’ of experience. That day Ruth switched shift with a colleague and took care of the newborn as any other baby, doing the routine check-up. But, the white supremacist parents of the newborn didn’t want an African American taking care of their baby. So, they demanded that Ruth be replaced with a white nurse.
Despite giving twenty years of her service, Ruth’s supervisor complied with the parents’ demand without a question, and replaced Ruth. Ruth was outraged over the racial discrimination she faced.
However, turn of events lead Ruth alone in the nursery with the baby the next day, who, in turn, goes into cardiac arrest. Ruth finds herself swaying between killing her conscience by not adhering to the nursing oath she took and not touching the baby as ordered, or attending to the baby and risking her job by ignoring the order from her supervisor.
Though the hospital staff reaches within seconds and the baby is attended to, in spite of their best efforts the baby could not be saved. What Ruth didn’t imagine was that she would be held responsible for the baby’s death and would be on trial for murder.
Ruth’s case is undertaken by Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender. To Ruth’s surprise, Kennedy advises her not to play the race card in the courtroom as it might backfire. What follows is a chain of events, court sessions, and the plight of an African American in the country of white people.
The question is would Ruth, an African American trust a white person, especially when she was behind bars because of one of them, and would Kennedy, from the white race, believe in one ‘of the colour’ when she has been taught to stay away from them since childhood?
Why should you read Small Great Things?
I had just heard about racism but never understood the depth and the scars it can leave on a person. Small Great Things brought me face to face with the reality, hitting me hard.
I could never have imagined how black people face racism in America, the pathetic behavior they face every day, the insult they bear every minute just for being of a different color.
The author has portrayed the harsh reality of racism brilliantly, and there will be many times you will feel for the protagonist. The three main characters are beautifully linked through parenthood. Being a parent how another parent connects me not just to the protagonist but in fact, with the baby’s parents and the white public attorney as well.
How each of them discovers something within and something about the outside world is beautifully woven. Small Great Things is sure to hit a cord in your heart for black people and bring a whirlpool of thoughts in your mind. Why are we still doing such things? Racism, caste, religion, are we really getting modern? Are we really progressing? If this is progress, I have full doubts about it.
Read the book for the belief it will restore in you that color isn’t everything for everyone. There are people above it who believe in equality to the core.
And of course, you must read the book to know how it feels to be a black person in America. Trust me, Small Great Things is written so wonderfully that you can’t help but feel it.
About the Author
The American author, Jodi Picoult has till now penned 23 novels of which the last 8 novels scored a place in the New York Times bestseller list. Her first novel was Songs of the Humpback Whale written in 1992.
Other novels by her are Harvesting The Heart, Off The Page, Perfect Match, Picture Perfect, Plain Truth, Change of Heart, Wonder Woman, Between The Lines, and Sing You Home. Jodi Picoult has many accolades in her name including New England Bookseller Award, Book Browse Diamond Award, and Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award.
This post was originally published here and was written for the December