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Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult
GENRE: Mainstream Fiction
A Black labor and delivery nurse is accused of misconduct following the tragic death of a white baby. Readers will be drawn into the examination of racism in America and moved by the firsthand narratives of both the victim and the perpetrator. At once a personal and public story, Small Great Things is a timely novel that deftly addresses the complexities of prejudice.
Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including Wish You Were Here, The Book of Two Ways, A Spark of Light, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister's Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page.
Picoult’s books have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries. Four novels – The Pact, Plain Truth, The Tenth Circle, and Salem Falls - have been made into television movies. My Sister’s Keeper was a film released from New Line Cinema, with Nick Cassavetes directing and Cameron Diaz starring. Small Great Things has been optioned for motion picture adaptation by Amblin Entertainment and is set to star Viola Davis and Julia Roberts. Picoult’s two Young Adult novels, Between The Lines and Off The Page, co-written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, have been adapted and developed by the authors into a musical entitled Between The Lines which had its world premiere in September 2017 at the Kansas City Repertory Theater and is expected to premiere Off-Broadway in Summer 2019.
Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven.
Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband. They have three children. - Author's website
Bestselling author Picoult’s latest page-turner is inspired by a Flint, Mich., event in which a white supremacist father refused to allow an experienced African-American labor and delivery nurse to touch his newborn. In Picoult’s story, a medical crisis results in an infant’s death and a murder charge against a black nurse named Ruth Jefferson. The story unfolds from three viewpoints: Ruth’s, the infant’s father—a skinhead named Turk—and Ruth’s public defender, Kennedy McQuarrie, a white professional woman questioning her own views about racism. The author’s comprehensive research brings veracity to Ruth’s story as a professional black woman trying to fit into white society, to Turk’s inducement into the white-power movement, and to Kennedy’s soul-searching about what it’s like to be black in America. Unfortunately, the author undermines this richly drawn and compelling story with a manipulative final plot twist as well as a Pollyannaish ending. Some may be put off by the moralistic undertone of Picoult’s tale, while others will appreciate the inspiration it provides for a much-needed conversation about race and prejudice in America. (Oct.) --Staff (Reviewed 08/29/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 35, p)
Immensely popular novelist Picoult (Leaving Time, 2014) continues to tackle weighty subject matter in her twenty-fourth novel. Ruth Jefferson, a widow with a teenage son, is a labor and delivery nurse and the only African American in her department. When the infant son of two white supremacists, Turk and Brittany Bauer, who have specifically asked that Ruth not handle their child, dies suddenly, Ruth is blamed for the child's death by both the hospital and the child's parents. In quick succession, Ruth loses her license, is dragged from her home by the police in the middle of the night, and is charged with murder. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white female public defender, takes Ruth's case, but her refusal to bring up race in Ruth's defense doesn't sit right with Ruth, given that race is ingrained in the case's DNA, from the Bauers' hateful views to Ruth's supervisor's acquiescence to their demands to Ruth's experience once in the cogs of the justice system. Picoult's gripping tale is told from three points of view, that of Ruth, Kennedy, and Turk, and offers a thought-provoking examination of racism in America today, both overt and subtle. Her many readers will find much to discuss in the pages of this topical, moving book. --Kristine Huntley.
Ruth Jefferson is great at her job. She's an experienced labor and delivery nurse who not only knows how to guide women through labor, but also understands post-delivery needs such as a shoulder to cry on and lipstick. But her career and life change forever when she hesitates before helping a baby in cardiac arrest. Why would a nurse pause to help a patient? Ruth is African American and the baby's white supremacist parents don't want her touching their child. The hospital tells Ruth to comply with the parents' wishes, but when she's the only available nurse, should she follow orders or try to save the newborn's life? Told from the points of view of Ruth, her white public defender, and the white supremacist father, the novel digs into the issue of race. Picoult (Leaving Time; The Storyteller) delivers what her fans expect with a controversial topic that includes plenty of courtroom drama and a surprise twist. The novel is well researched, although it raises the question: can a person of one race write authentically about being another race? VERDICT Recommended for Picoult fans and book clubs that don't shy away from serious discussions. [See Prepub Alert, 4/25/16; 15-city tour.]--Amy Stenftenagel, Washington Cty. Lib., Woodbury, MN
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Overwhelmed by new motherhood in spite of her love for her infant son, Rebecca, a white woman, asks a kind black woman, Priscilla, to become her family's nanny, only to have her perspectives changed about her own life of privilege, a situation that compels her to take on unanticipated challenges in the aftermath of a tragedy.
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Adisa Johnson, a young African American attorney, is living her dream of practicing law with a prestigious firm in downtown Atlanta. Then a split-second mistake changes the course of her career. Left with no other options, Adisa returns to her hometown where a few days earlier a white police officer shot an unarmed black teen who is now lying comatose in the hospital. Adisa is itching to jump into the fight as a special prosecutor, but feels pulled to do what she considers unthinkable--defend the officer. As the court case unfolds, everyone in the small community must confront their own prejudices.
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