Jodi Picoult is no stranger when it comes to writing novels that deal with difficult subjects or subjects no one wants to discuss. "Small Great Things" deals with racism and the amount of research that went into this novel is evident. It is based on a true story and the title of the novel is taken directly from one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's. speeches. Racism is strong in American and it is only getting worse.
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse with over 20 years of experience. She is good at her job, she loves her job but her life is about to change with the birth of one child, a child of a white supremacist.
Turk Bauer and his wife have just had their first child, a white male. Ruth enters into the room to do routine exams of a newborn and the atmosphere quickly changes, becomes tense. Ruth takes a mental note but carries on as usual then Turk asks to speak with her supervisor. Shortly after a note is put on the newborn child's file that no one black is to handle him. Ruth is understandably upset as she is the only black nurse and the note is directly aimed at her.
A series of events puts her in a situation in which she is alone with the newborn and then he stops breathing. She jumps into action but it is futile and the baby is pronounced dead. Turk Bauer and his wife believe that Ruth willfully and with purpose murdered their son and a court battle begins.
This story is told in many voices. Ruth's, Turks and Kennedy's (Ruth's lawyer). Picoult does an excellent job of telling each characters life story. My only issue is that I felt the ending was abrupt and could have used another 20-80 pages. I was left wanting more.
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