As we all know by now, I love Jodi Picoult. She is one of my favourite authors and she’s written a large portion of my favourite books, so of course I was going to jump at the chance to see her talking about her new book and to get myself a signed copy. I’ve seen her in the past, so my mum and I knew she was going to be good. She spent the first portion of her time reading from her book, which was enough to get me hooked and I started reading the book immediately afterwards, then she talked about her inspiration behind the book and why she finally wrote it. The third and final portion of the talk was a Q&A which turned highly political (with Trump winning being the focus for most of the questions). It was an excellent day and it made me incredibly eager to read the book!
Small Great Things focuses on racism and white supremacy which is not something I’ve read about in a book before. I’ve read a fair few book about racism, but nothing on white supremacy and I’m ashamed to say I know very little on the subject. In Small Great Things, we follow Ruth who is a midwife in a small hospital and is ultimately banned from providing care to one family because she is black and they are white supremists. The baby then arrests and dies whilst placed under the temporary care of Ruth, and Ruth is taken to court for her actions or ‘non-actions’ that lead to the death of the infant.
As with all of Jodi Picoult’s books, Small Great Things is written in a multi-perspective voice, where you read from Ruth’s perspective, her lawyer’s perspective and you also hear from Turk, the white supremist father of the dead baby. The characters are well developed and you instantly hate Turk and route for Ruth. Throughout the book, Ruth’s character calls into question what you as a reader know and understand about what it’s like to grow up black and the disadvantage that that gives you against the lives of white people. You hear examples of the every day racism that black people face, and you see two different ways that people react to the stereotypes faced by BME minorities.
Small Great Things is gripping but difficult to read. It will make you uncomfortable as it calls into question everything you thought you knew, but it is so gripping that you will not be able to put it down. I had dreams about this book when I stopped reading for the night and it was the first thing I thought about when I woke up in the morning. I was picking it up for five minutes when I was slightly early to work, I honestly could not stop reading.
Before reading Small Great Things, I was ignorant of the extent to which black and minority ethnic groups are discriminated against throughout the modern world, I would never have called myself racist, but the way that Jodi Picoult writes Small Great Things led me to question everything I thought I knew about race and racism and the way we act about it. As with every book I’ve read of Jodi Picoult’s, this book struck a chord with me and impacted my way of thinking and being that I don’t often encounter with other authors.
I wholeheartedly encourage every single one of you to read this book because it will change the way that you think and act in everyday life.
Jodi asked at her event “How many of you read an equal amount of books by white people and by minority authors?” and that really struck a chord with me. Going into 2017, I hearby make a pact to read more diversely