Book Review: Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult ****

I’ve always thought that a Jodi Picoult book was a bit like watching an episode of House. Right at the start you get to know the people and characters concerned then spend the next part wondering what the “bad thing” is that will inevitably happen. After that bad thing has taken place you’ve then got the aftermath to deal with while everyone tries to figure out the best thing to do about it. This book feels like a return to form for Picoult and is her most moving book for years.

Ruth Jefferson is a midwife with more than twenty years’ experience. During a shift she begins a routine check on a new-born baby only to be told minutes later that she has been reassigned to another patient. The parents are both white supremacists who can’t bear to have African American Ruth touching their son. The hospital complies with their wishes and the child’s file is marked by a post-it note with their intentions.

The next day Ruth is covering for another nurse when the baby goes into cardiac distress. She is alone in the nursery and has a dilemma between following orders and trying to save the baby’s life. She hesitates before performing CPR on the infant but is unable to save his life. Instead she finds herself charged with racially provoked murder.

This isn’t always the easiest book to read. Particularly in 2016 when racial struggles have hit the news headlines time and time again it is hard to be reminded about the depth of feeling that persists below the surface in our society. The ensuing court case becomes a media sensation and brings up some very difficult questions. It feels like a very honest book but does leave you a bit overwrought by the time you get to the end.

Supplied by Net Galley and Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review.

UK Publication Date: Nov 22 2016. 511 pages.

Small Great Things: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird for the 21st Century’

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