“… Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into account, so everyone has a chance to succeed …”
Ruth is a labor and delivery nurse who has worked hard for years to make a good life for herself and her son. Her husband died serving his country in the military. She grew up with her mother cleaning homes, but hopes her son will go to college. Her dark skin has always been a part of her existence but has never made her a target of hatred until a couple who are white supremacists deliver their baby at her hospital. A note is put in their chart that she is not to attend to the baby, but when an emergency happens and she is the only person available, she must choose to obey the order or try and save the child.
I heard about Small Great Things shortly after it was published both by fellow readers and in Bookpages magazine in the fall of 2016. I added it to my to-read list and finally got around to reading it this summer. Part of the delay was the long wait list at the library for the book. I read the ebook when it came available through Overdrive.
In Small Great Things, the baby ends up passing away due to a genetic defect, but Ruth is accused of letting the child die and is arrested and charged with the baby’s murder. The hospital allows it to happen to save itself from being the target. Ruth is the only African-American employed in the labor and delivery wing. An African-American attorney representing the state and a white, female attorney representing Ruth prosecute the case. Throughout the book, all the characters learn more about themselves, the world and the truth about race relations.
I would recommend this book to all adults. It will make you think through what you actually think and believe about race relations. The book does deal with very adult topics with racism. I would recommend finding someone to read the book along with you so you can have someone to talk to when you finish reading it.
“I knew I wanted to write from the point of view of a Black nurse, a skinhead father and a public defender – a woman who, like me, and like many of my readers, was a well-intentioned white lady who would never consider herself to be a racist.” – Jodi Picoult
Have you read Small Great Things? What struck you most about the book? Comment below!