5 Stars

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Small Great Things - Powerful realistic fiction.

Small Great Things is a powerful realistic fiction novel about race, family, and friendship. Ruth is an African American woman who works as a labor and delivery nurse in a predominantly white community in Connecticut. She's worked there for many years and is a well-liked and respected employee. Everything changes when Ruth is assigned to work with a white couple who have just delivered a baby boy. The father, Turk, (a self-proclaimed white supremacist) requests that no African American be allowed to touch his baby, and a note is put into the baby's file. Ruth is hurt and angered, but she plans to abide by the patients' wishes. After a routine circumcision, the baby goes into cardiac arrest, and Ruth happens to be the only staff member on hand to witness it. Torn between her duty as a medical professional and the patients' request, she finally steps in to assist, but without success. Afterwards, Turk and his wife blame Ruth for what transpired, and they file a lawsuit against her. She loses her job, her friends at the hospital, and the respect she once had, until Kennedy, a public defender, steps in to help. The story is told from the perspectives of Ruth, Turk, and Kennedy, and the reader is taken on a bumpy ride through the minefield that is race relations in our country. Picoult tackles this heavy topic with real, well-developed characters, and forces the reader to see the story from all sides. There are several supporting characters that add depth, including, Ruth's son, Edison, and her sister, Adisa. Small Great Things is powerful, and engaging, as most of Picoult's novels are. If this topic doesn't interest you, check out my reviews of some of Picoult's other novels. Regardless of which book you read by this author, she will make you think!