Small Great Things

Jodi Picoult
Aug 5, 2017

Small Great Things is the story of Ruth Jefferson, an African American labor and delivery nurse with twenty years of experience working in hospitals on the East coast. When a couple requests that no person of color touch their baby, the hospital complies and assigns a new nurse. But later, due to an emergency, Ruth is left in the nursery by herself, and the baby goes into cardiac arrest. She hesitates before performing CPR, but there is no way to save the baby. Ruth then finds herself dismissed from her job and on trial for the death of the baby.

Ruth is represented by a white public defender who feels it is inappropriate to bring up the racial issues which occurred in the hospital during the trial. Over time, Ruth and her attorney come to understand one another’s point of view and to change some of their options and ways of thinking. Reading this book was an eye-opening experience that helped me realize that being "color-blind" is not the way to look at people, but that we should instead see all the colors that we are.

Much of Small Great things is set in a courtroom. I feel that this portion of the book rivals the courtroom scene in Harper Lee’s To Kill a MockingbirdThe title of this book is taken from a Martin Luther King quote: “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” 

Jodi Picoult is the author of thirteen novels that are inspired by many of the feature stories we see in the news. Small Great Things is also taken from current events and is turned into a work of fiction that is hard to forget. This book was difficult to stop reading.

Reviewed by Library Staff