Ruth, an African American, has been a labor and delivery nurse for 20 years. She is stunned when the parents of a newborn ask that she not be allowed to touch their baby. She's even more stunned when her supervisor puts a note in the chart adhereing to those wishes.
During an emergency, when Ruth is the only one available to watch the baby, he goes into cardiac arrest, and Ruth is torn about what to do. I turns out the baby dies, and Ruth is charged with murder. Can you say "moral dilemma?"
The other main character is Ruth's white public defender, Kennedy, who has never handled a murder case before. It's a rocky road, given that Kennedy is adamant that you don't mention "race" in a courtroom, when Ruth knows that's exactly what this case is about.
As a white person, I was most intrigued by Kennedy's journey. It's a book that made me think about racism and what that really means.
Yes, Picoult is white. She discusses that in her note at the end of Small Great Things, and how she didn't know if she was "qualified" to write this story. I won't give an opinion, because I suppose that's up to the African American people that read the book. But, I will say (again) that Small Great Things gets you thinking, and I would highly recommend it.
I don't buy many adult novels for my high school library -- I just don't have the budget -- but I think Small Great Things needs to be read by teens as well as adults, so I'm going to order it.
Funny story: I read this book on my iPad, and since you never see the cover, I didn't think this was by Picoult. I have a book by another author that I intend to read soon, and I thought this book was by her. All through the book, I kept thinking, "Boy, she writes a lot like Jodi Picoult!" Duh....
Published by Ballentine, October 11, 2016
eARC obtained from NetGalley
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