Tag Archives: Race Relations

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: Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age
By Kiley Reid
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780525541905, December 2019, 320pp.

The Short of It:

A slow build but once I got into it it was like a time bomb ready to go off.

The Rest of It:

For once, I read a buzzy book when everyone else was reading it too. Such a Fun Age is making the rounds and getting a lot of praise. It was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club and although I’ve not read all of her selections, the ones I have read have been really good. This was no exception.

Emira is at a club celebrating with her friends when her boss calls her to ask if she can possibly watch her daughter due to an emergency. One, it’s late. Two, she’s dressed for the club. Three, she’s been drinking. Although she explains this to her boss, the desperation on the other line wins out.

Minutes later, Emira finds herself with three-year-old Briar in an upscale supermarket checking out the nuts, dancing in the aisle, doing whatever it takes to keep the kid occupied while her mother, Alix, tends to her emergency. Just minutes into their visit, they begin to draw the attention of other shoppers. Emira, a young black woman, and Briar, a young white child, wandering the aisles so late at night seems out of place. So much so, that a security guard begins to question her. Emira explains that she is Briar’s babysitter, which is the truth but she knows how it looks. Things escalate. That is where the story begins.

This is one of those slow-build books. Conflict is everywhere but you know something big is coming and as the story plays out, the one word that comes to mind is EXPLOSIVE. This is a book about race but also fetishsizing race, which I thought was interesting.

Two things stood out for me. One, the story is a little gritty. Not overworked or polished which I liked very much. The author did a good job of portraying each character’s POV. None of these characters are perfect and you won’t find yourself siding with any of them. They all play a role in how the rabbit falls down the hole.  Two, the portrayal of Briar, the young child seemed a little off. She’s critical to the story but her observations were often not believable to me and they took me out of the narrative at times.

However, there is a lot to think about here and you will find yourself eagerly flipping those pages towards the end because it’s like a train wreck and you can’t possibly look away. I wouldn’t say it was a perfect story but I don’t think it was meant to be.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.