Small Great Things

Skip Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult if you’re looking for a light read. Three principal narrators – Turk, the skinhead father who orders that no African American attend his new baby; Ruth, the experienced African American nurse who disregards the order when the child goes into distress; and Kennedy, the public defender who takes Ruth’s murder case when the baby dies – tell the story.

Picoult sets up her premise, “The miracle happened on West Seventy-Fourth Street, in the home where Mama worked,” and foreshadows the story line, “. . . where all the differences in schooling and money and skin color evaporated like mirages in the desert. Where everyone was equal, and it was one woman, helping another. That miracle,
I’ve spent thirty-nine years waiting to see again.”

Jodi Picoult took a real situation and expanded it into a novel. The title came from a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quote. “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Her research included spending time equivalents of her narrators. Each of them must examine their beliefs about power, privilege, and race and so must the reader. I highly recommend the book unless you’re looking for something fluffy.