Author: Jodi Picoult

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Racism and White Privilege in Small Great Things

November 1, 2016 Book Review, reviews 12

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Racism and White Privilege in Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Published by Ballantine Books on October 11th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction
Pages: 480
Source: complimentary review copy
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You say you don’t see color…but that’s all you see. You’re so hyperaware of it, and of trying to look like you aren’t prejudiced, you can’t even understand that when you say race doesn’t matter all I hear is you dismissing what I’ve felt, what I’ve lived, what it’s like to be put down because of the color of my skin.

Jodi Picoult never fails to deliver a novel that makes us think, makes us consider what we would do, how we would respond. It’s my favorite kind of book: the one that teaches me about myself and my community.

Small Great Things is the story of Ruth Jefferson, a labor and delivery nurse for twenty years. She’s been a stellar employee and nurse and raised an honor student alone after her husband died serving in Afghanistan. By all appearances, Ruth is a model citizen and a genuinely great nurse. She is also African American.

Why does this matter?

It doesn’t. Except to Turk and Brittany, white supremacists who object to Ruth being the nurse for their newborn baby, Davis.

When circumstances arise that leave Ruth watching over Davis, the baby stops breathing, codes and ultimately dies.

I imagine you can guess what happens next.

Ruth is charged with murdering the baby as revenge.

Small Great Things is told in three alternating voices: Ruth, Turk, father of Davis and white supremacist, and Kennedy, the white public defender assigned to represent Ruth.

Each character is fully developed with a thorough back story. Reading how Turk came to be so filled with hate was a lesson in humanity. Kennedy thought she was not racist because she “didn’t see color.”. Her passion for social justice and winning Ruth’s case was a lesson in humanity. Which was more important: winning or compassionately understanding another person?

[Tweet “Compassionate novel of white privilege and racism by @jodipicoult”]

While the book is not without flaws, a few passages and actions seemed outside of reality, but, then again, isn’t that why we read? as an escape of reality?  Ambiguous endings are not a favorite for me and Picoult has been known to have a few those. Small Great Things gives us a shocking, yet also neatly wrapped ending. I think I’ve read every Jodi Picoult book, and while Leaving Time will probably always be my favorite, Small Great Things is a close second. It is relevant, a mirror for today’s society and told with depth and compassion.

 

*Many thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for the review copy.

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Elephants, Psychics and Overcoming Grief in Leaving Time

October 20, 2014 Book Review 4

Elephants, Psychics and Overcoming Grief in Leaving TimeLeaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Published by Ballantine Books on October 14th, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 416
Source: purchased
Goodreads

 

Children are the anchors of a mother’s life.  

~Sophocles, Phaedra, fragment 612

Having read almost all of Jodi Picoult’s previous novels I knew I was settling in for a treat of a read.  Thirteen year old Jenna Metcalf enlists the help of two very unlikely sources ~ Serenity, a psychic with a load of baggage and Victor/Virgil the alcoholic detective turned P.I. who investigated a death at the elephant sanctuary Jenna’s parents owned 10 years prior.

Jodi Picoult has been labeled a master storyteller by Stephen King ~ in my opinion, Leaving Time is truly Picoult’s best novel to date.  Told in alternating voices we are given clues throughout of what happened the night Alice Metcalf disappeared and long-time elephant caregiver, Nevvie, was discovered trampled by one of the elephants.

When the plot lines intersect, cross over and under and around as they did in Leaving Time, it is not uncommon to discover a slip up somewhere.  Not so in this gem.  Every tendril of the story was wrapped up – not in a nice neat package, but rather in a manner that felt real.  The characters from thirteen year old Jenna, her mother Alice, Serenity and Virgil – each one is an individual fully fleshed out in their own right.  But the true beauty of the novel is reading about the elephants.  The research that went into this novel is so thorough – the plight of both wild elephants and those in captivity, the different challenges faced by each group and the grief and the “allomothering” – wow! I wanted to jump inside the novel and be Alice for a time.

Then the research into psychics and elephants – the way Picoult integrates her new-found knowledge into the novel without making it seem dusty and dry is so seamless.

Leaving Time is for anyone who loves animals, especially elephants.  It is for mothers of daughters and daughters of mothers; for those dealing with a mental illness – either personally or with a loved one.  It is for the man who sees no redemption for his actions and for the ones who have talked to the other side.  It will leave you feeling many emotions including sated and satisfied.  Highly, highly recommended.

[Tweet “Elephants, grief and psychics in #leavingtime”]

Jodi Picoult has also given us the novella Larger Than Life for those wanting to wade a bit deeper into the background of Alice Metcalf and her research with elephant grief.  It is just as fabulous as Leaving Time and will take you on roller coaster ride of emotions.

We also have Where There’s Smoke that introduces us to Serenity Jones, the psychic in Leaving Time.  I read this one several months ago and could not wait to get me hands on Leaving Time which had not been released at that time – do yourself a favor and get all three!  Set aside a weekend of Jodi Picoult reading and start with Where There’s Smoke and Larger Than Life prior to Leaving Time.  So so good!

*currently Where There’s Smoke is free for Kindle, Kobo, and Nook and Larger Than Life is $1.99.

I’d love to know  what was the last book you read that had you hungering for more, more, more from the author or the storyline?  Share in the comments 🙂

 

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