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small great things book coverReviewed by Amanda Schafer

As a labor and delivery nurse, Ruth Jefferson knows how to help people. She sees women at their worst, totally exposed and vulnerable, in order to bring a tiny human into this world. She comforts them and guides them through the stages of labor, and also guides the husbands in supporting their wives. One aspect of her job that is most difficult is when the baby doesn’t survive and she has to guide the parents through a new set of stages…the beginning stages of grief.

Turk Bauer is a first-time father who has helped his wife through the stages of labor and now they have a beautiful baby boy, Davis. But when the shifts change at the hospital and Ruth Jefferson walks in to begin caring for his boy, Turk bristles. Turk is a white supremacist and this nurse is black and no way is she touching his son. Turk even goes so far as to speak with Ruth’s supervisor and have a note placed in his son’s file that no African American people are to touch his son…even though Ruth is the only African American that works in that department. When Davis reacts badly to the circumcision in the nursery, Ruth is the only one in the room with him…but she knows she’s not supposed to touch him. Every instinct in her screams to help this baby, but she can’t because of Turk Bauer. After Davis dies, the Bauers bring a lawsuit against Ruth in the death of their child.

Kennedy McQuarrie is a public defender who initially handles Ruth’s arraignment but then becomes determined to fully defend Ruth Jefferson. This case, she says, isn’t about race…although everyone in the room knows that it is. As they progress through the trial, Ruth’s son begins to rebel and turn away from the things that he knows to be true. Will the jury acquit? Or will they send Ruth to jail? Or will there be, like all of Picoult’s books, a shocking twist at the end?

Jodi Picoult is an amazing writer who can write about a controversial subject in such a way that allows the reader to see both sides. To feel both sides. And then, sometimes, to have a reaction different than what they thought they would have. Small Great Things is no different. Most everyone has an opinion regarding race…their opinions are set and they know what they believe. Some (like a juror in the book) will say they aren’t racist when they actually are. When the barriers come down sometimes things really aren’t what we thought they were.

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Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.