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Throwback Thursday: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


This weekly feature is hosted by Renee, https://itsbooktalk.com (Its Book Talk). Throwback Thursday offers a way to share some of our old favorites as well  as sharing books that we are finally getting around to reading that were published over a year ago.


small great thingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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.


Ruth Jefferson works at the labor ward at Mercy-West Haven. She has been a labor nurse for over twenty years. Right from the first page, readers get to see Ruth working with new mothers. It is obvious how great she is at her job. She not only has passion for her job but also love for the newborns. Needless to say, it was devastating when Ruth was reassigned from a case only to find out that this decision was based on the color of her skin.

This sets the tone for the book whose main theme is race. We get to hear the story from Ruth, an African American woman. She has done everything right in her life, went to Yale Nursing School, lives at a good neighborhood and is raising a bright, intelligent young man. However, at the background of Ruth’s success story is the issue of her race. Through her voice, we learn about her struggles. One particular scene that stood out to me involved her shopping at a store where she was followed around and her bags were inspected as other shoppers(white) went about their business without the scrutiny. There are also scenes that involve 3:00am arrests and phrases such as, ‘big, black, angry man’ used to describe a scared teen. This is the kind of book that makes you angry, uncomfortable. It confronts you with reality and forces you to open your eyes to the injustices faced by different ethnic groups.

On the other hand, there is Turk who is a white supremacist who hates blacks, asians and gays. The depths of his hate run deep. He spends most of his life beating up gays. Turk is married to Brit who shares in his believe. Part of me wanted to reject the portrayal of Turk and Brit. I mean, how could two people be so hateful? Who the hell thinks like they did? However, I recalled the news stories that have recently made headlines about hate groups. That reminded me that sadly, there are people like Turk in this world. The hate that he had was not an exaggeration.

I like the fact that the author introduced a third character in this story. Kennedy is Ruth’s lawyer and she is white. She doesn’t consider herself racist and in her words, she doesn’t see race. I enjoyed seeing how her character changed throughout the story when she had to consider other perspectives. There are many other outstanding characters in the books such as Adisa and Edison, Ruth’s mum, Christina, Micah. It is a long book so the author really took the time to develop each character hence enriching the story

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult is a heavy book. Nonetheless, Jodi does a brilliant job of portraying these themes in a thought-provoking, sensitive manner. Her narration style doesn’t make it sound preachy despite the numerous lessons. Instead, this almost reads like a legal thriller since a lot of it revolves around the legal issues that arose from the racial discrimination. There was so much tension. I didn’t know what would happen at the end. I was nervous for Ruth especially once I got to know more about the evil people who she was dealing with.

At the end of the story, the lessons remain. I found myself thinking about racism and all the people that if affects. Jodi’s book made me think about race issues in the West and also ethnic hatred right here at home. At the end of the day, hate is hate whether based on race, religion, sexual orientation or tribe. This book is thought-provoking and it challenges you to see things from other people’s perspectives.

It is an important book that everyone should read. Highly recommended.


34 comments on “Throwback Thursday: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

  1. deesradreadsandreviews
    September 7, 2017

    This was such a fantastic novel. Excellent review, Diana!!

    • Diana
      September 7, 2017

      It was a great read. Thank you 🙂

  2. Stephanie
    September 7, 2017

    I loved this novel! One of Picoult’s best, in my opinion! Such an excellent review and great pick for TBT!

    • Diana
      September 7, 2017

      Thank you Stephanie. I have read two other titles but Jodi and this one definitely is my favorite one so I agree with you 🙂

      • Stephanie
        September 7, 2017

        You are welcome! I really wish they would make this one into a movie! So much better than My Sister’s Keeper, and I think would make a much better movie than it did! 🙂 I would be watching it!!

  3. Swirl and Thread
    September 7, 2017

    My NG days ran out on me with this book so never got to read it!! Does sound like a good read.

    • Diana
      September 7, 2017

      It really was good. Sorry to hear that you didn’t get to a chance to read it but I hope that you will get a copy someday soon. Its definitely worth checking out 🙂

  4. booksarge
    September 7, 2017

    Would love to read this book, I totally relate on profiling back here and how services are declined to you because of your tribe. I agree with, it goes across many lines from race, tribe, xenophobia and sexual orientation bottom line hate is hate.

    • Diana
      September 7, 2017

      I have sent you an email about it. I would love for you to read it because I really think its the kind of book that you would like.

      There is too much hate in this world. At least this book forces us to confront some of these issues. We need more such books definitely.

      • booksarge
        September 8, 2017

        Thank you, I’ve added it to my TBR list.

  5. Jodi Picoult is an author I’ve woefully neglected. I’m going to have to rectify that ASAP. Nice review Diana!😊

    • Diana
      September 7, 2017

      This is my third book by Jodi. I have read Nineteen Minutes about a school shooting and My Sister’s Keeper which is about terminal illness. She tends to write about heavy themes but she is really good at it. I definitely recommend that you start with this one since I think its her best one yet 🙂

  6. bibliobeth
    September 7, 2017

    Great review Diana! I fully agree, such an important read and one I thoroughly enjoyed. 😁

    • Diana
      September 7, 2017

      I am glad to hear that you agree and that you also enjoyed it too Beth 🙂

  7. Renee (Itsbooktalk)
    September 7, 2017

    Great review and pick for TBT Diana! It does sound so timely and I’m left wondering just based on your review how it turned out for Ruth! I’ll keep this in mind for the future:)

    • Diana
      September 7, 2017

      I hope that you will get a chance to read it soon. Its amazing Renee and yes, I bet that question will be on your mind too as you read it. You have to get to the end and find out and there are a number of surprises along the way but it is definitely worth it 🙂

    • Clues and Reviews
      September 7, 2017

      Renee! You haven’t read this yet??? YOU HAVE TO!!

      • Renee (Itsbooktalk)
        September 7, 2017

        No😱…ok, adding to my tbr tower and I will try to squeeze it in to the mountain of fall books I’ve got to read!!

  8. Clues and Reviews
    September 7, 2017

    I am so so so so glad you enjoyed it too! Amazing review!!

  9. lbarasa
    September 7, 2017

    Sounds harrowing and yes I’ve been thinking of the same lately. When we talk of racism in other countries yet don’t use the same thinking logic for the racism in our country who are we fooling? Charity begins at home
    I love the review hope to read it

    • Diana
      September 8, 2017

      Thank you Lyndah. If you don’t have the book then I will share my copy with you.

      And you are so right, we are quick to judge and express our shock about racism and hate groups like KKK but just because racism isn’t a problem here, doesn’t mean there is no hate. Ethnic hatred is just as bad.

      • lbarasa
        September 8, 2017

        I’ll appreciate it dear.

  10. Tina Woodbury
    September 7, 2017

    This is one of my favorite books!! A must read, no doubt.

    • Diana
      September 8, 2017

      I am glad to hear that. Its now on my list of favourites too 🙂

  11. Annie
    September 8, 2017

    I’ve read a couple Picoult books but they’re so dramatic that I’m never in the mood, you know what I mean? I remember when I read 19 minutes and wow, that was too depressing lol

    • Diana
      September 8, 2017

      Yeah, My Sister’s Keeper was quite depressing for me and so was 19 minutes and The Pact. She tends to go for the heavy, sad themes. This one is not depressing though but it tackles racism and does get quite heavy.

  12. Yvo
    September 9, 2017

    Excellent review! I completely agree with your thoughts. 🙂

    • Diana
      September 19, 2017

      Thank you Yvonne. It ended up being such a brilliant read 🙂

  13. Pingback: Because bloggers said so… | A Haven for Book Lovers

  14. Esther Osiel
    December 31, 2017

    Diana, this review has ignighted in me a desire to read Jodi Picoult’s books. Thank you🤗

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