Book review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

I’ve read a few of Jodi Picoult’s novels and they always have me questioning my thoughts and how I would act and react if I was within the story. However, none have left such a lasting impression as ‘Small Great Things’ has. I took my time reading as it is one of those books you do not want to get to the last page of because that means you’ve got to stop reading it. I have recommended this book to anyone I talk to and I discuss the issues it raises with others whenever I can as well as mulling it all over in my mind many times. For me that is the sure sign of a great book, am I left questioning who and how I am. 

‘Small Great Things’ takes you through all your emotions as there is everything from humour, love and compassion right through to pure hate, overt and underlying racism, ignorance and a reluctance to be involved in society. There are many more which could be mentioned however those are the ones which come to my mind months after finishing the book in July.

This book will have you questioning if you are racist or not even when you believe yourself to not be and can talk through all those reasons why you aren’t. It made me recognise racist situations I had witnessed in my life and to share them with others as examples of racism which isn’t so obvious to those unaware of it. 

In the society we live in, it is also relevant for looking at how we interact with other groups or how certain groups are meant to be protected but are failed daily. The subtleties that are highlighted through and by the main character, Ruth a qualified midwife in an American hospital, leave us thinking about what we have read, what she has experienced and how would we react if we worked with her or knew her. 

We follow each character through their stories and it is through Turk’s parts that we also see how his beliefs affect him daily and how he responds physically, mentally and emotionally to Ruth due to his racist views. It is too easy to point the finger at him and declare him racist and stand in judgement of his actions and we are drawn into a story which continually asks that question ‘Are you racist?’. It is through the interactions between Ruth and her lawyer, Kennedy that we see how racism, prejudice, ignorance and acceptance need to be discussed within families and not just Black families who deal with racism. We must all discuss it and not just dismiss racism as someone else’s issue. 

The book also explores relationships within families and friendships, self-esteem and a sense of belonging or searching to belong elsewhere so you could read this book without even thinking about racism. That would however be wrong as we need to consider the small great things we can all do which would result in important changes within our behaviour and as a result promote change in society. 

 Let us know what you think of ‘Small Great Things’ and if you haven’t read it yet then go read it as you won’t be disappointed and then let us know what you loved about it.

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