Tag Archives: Jodi Picoult

Review: Small Great Things

Small Great Things

Small Great Things
By Jodi Picoult
Ballantine Books, 9780345544971, February 2018, 528pp.

The Short of It:

This is a book that will fire you up and make you angry but it’s also a great book to discuss.

The Rest of It:

A good friend suggested Small Great Things to me after I read Just Mercy. Before the “safer at home” orders, I bought a copy of the book but then I sat on it because with the quarantine and all, I had such a hard time focusing on reading that a book, heavy with race themes, didn’t seem like a book I wanted to reach for. But, I promised her I’d read it and I finally did.

Ruth is a labor and delivery nurse, a graduate of Yale with twenty years experience in the field. As she tends to a young mother who has just given birth, and begins to assess the infant, she is asked by the parents to step away from the child. Shortly afterward, her supervisor explains that the parents do not want a black nurse tending to their son and places a Post-it note in the child’s file, saying so. Although it’s explained to Ruth that parents make special requests all the time and that this is no different, Ruth is the only black nurse in the unit and feels that this is a personal attack against her.

After the child experiences a medical emergency, and Ruth is the only nurse available to tend to him, she’s not sure what to do. Care for the infant in an attempt to save him or follow the orders that she’s been given?

This was a really great read. Timely. As I was finishing the final pages the news about Ahmaud Arbery came to light and it made me all the more angry while reading. Small Great Things speaks of injustice but also touches on white supremacy and the rise of it. It’s a tough pill to swallow and you will hate some of these characters. I suppose that’s a testament to Picoult’s writing because these characters smacked of hate and I did not want to spend any time with them.

That said, this would make a fabulous book club read because there is so much to discuss. Ruth is also a widowed mother, caring for her college-bound son so her choices directly impact her son and his ability to continue his education. Have you read it? If not, definitely add it to your list.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Nineteen Minutes

Nineteen Minutes
By Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group Pub.
Date: February 2008
480pp

Here’s a bit from the book:

“In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five…. In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.”

Were you ever picked on as a child? In the 2nd grade, there was a 6th grade boy that made my life a living hell. I’m not sure why he felt the need to do it, but I remember walking to school, not knowing if I was ever going to make it to school in one piece. The school day was no better. I’d be out on the playground only to be punched in the stomach or pushed to the ground. The aides didn’t seem to care what happened to me. Everyone has their limits though and when I hit mine, the end result was a 6th grade boy, bawling his head off with two broken teeth in his mouth. Yep, I decked him! Now, I am not a fan of violence but it sure felt good.

This story is like that but on a much bigger scale. Peter and Josie are childhood friends. Peter is teased mercilessly throughout his formative years. Josie eventually gives in to peer pressure and begins to hang out with the same kids that have it in for Peter. Since Josie is really the only close friend that Peter has, this hurts him deeply. After a particularly cruel prank leaves him completely raw and exposed, he takes exactly nineteen minutes to end the hurt for good.

My Thoughts:

This is my first experience with a Picoult novel. At first, I was a bit distracted with the flashbacks and flash forwards. They were necessary to tell the story, but I am just not a big fan of a lot of flashbacks. However, I do feel that in the end, they worked well.

I had a hard time liking the characters, but I’m not sure Picoult wanted me to like them per se. They were flawed, the parents included, but very realistically drawn. I didn’t have any issues with believability. I did feel sorry for Peter, even with what he did in the end. I identified with his pain but my frustration mounted as adult after adult chose to look the other way.

This is an incredibly sad story of a child who fell through the cracks. It’s a story that stays with you and although my kids have not hit the tweens quite yet, it has made me think about the upcoming teen years and what I can do as a parent to be there for my kids. Not just in the room, but present and involved in their lives without forcing myself upon them.

After reading this one, I am looking forward to reading some of Picoult’s other novels. My book group is meeting on Thursday to discuss this one but I may not be able to make it due to Open House at the school. I know there will be a lot to discuss so I am crossing my fingers that I can do both.