Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Small Great Things: Book Review



Small Great Things
By Jodi Picoult

Review copy by Random House


I started blogging the post about a month ago before Charlottesville.

Some of my comments are vague because I read the novel over a month ago. I'm afraid my review will not do justice to the novel. This is a book that is a fast read, but very heartbreaking, and uncomfortable to read. I can't believe that we are still going through this is in our country today, and this is 2017.  Because nothing seems to have been resolved since I was a child growing up in Livonia( suburbs of Detroit). I still remember the Detroit Riots '67. Nothing has changed to decrease the violence, the hate, and fear in this country.

I have been wanting to put off reading, Small Great Things for months. Because I knew it would be a good one. I was right. I couldn't put it down. There are too many adjectives to count to describe the novel, Small Great Things. The author had tried to write it years ago. But, because of the subject matter. She had a difficult time. How could she as a white woman write the story of experiences of a black woman? She thought what right do I have to write about the Afro- American experience if I am not, one myself.  I never realized what a Afro-American has to go through. The book is pretty powerful.

The characters are Ruth, the labor and delivery nurse. She has worked in a small New Haven hospital in Connecticut for over 20 years. Then there is Turk and Brittany, both White Supremists. Turk and Brittany just had a baby. Brittany just delivered their son. Now, that Brittany has delivered their son. Ruth introduces her self and has to do a normal exam on their child. Nurse Ruth. Both the mother, and father ask to speak to her supervisor.They ask the charge nurse to remove Ruth from their son's case.

Now, let me remind you some of the parts of the book are vague in my memory. But, what I do recall was that. The charge nurse told Ruth she would no longer be taking care of Davis, their son. But, beside that it was written in front of the chart. To me that right there the charge nurse was wrong. That is discrimination. This part stands out in my mind.

A few days later, Ruth is asked to do overtime. She came in and than an emergency came about. The Charge nurse left the floor. And the nurse that was taking care of Turk and Brittany's baby had to leave. So, Ruth was left on the floor by herself. She thought it wouldn't be a problem. Of course, wrong.

 The baby had a cardiac arrest while Ruth was standing there. Nurses are to follow the code of ethics. At first a few medical staff suggests that she is just standing there. Not trying to rescue the child. The charge nurse comes back and sees something totally different. Ruth is Damned if she does, and damned if she doesn't. Was she only thinking of her job? Or would she help the baby, Davis and protect and save him? This here is where I struggled reading. I couldn't believe that Ruth would stand there and do nothing. Because of how the author paints Ruth as a caring, compassionate nurse, and mother to her teenage son. Just didn't make sense to me while reading.

Nurses follow a code of ethics. That is why we are licensed. If we don't follow it. This is when your license is held in question of malpractice and negligence. Negligence is what a reasonable and prudent person would do, or not do under the same circumstances. That is why Ruth couldn't just stand there and not do anything. It would way on her conscience. Even if her supervisor told her to stay away from the child. I couldn't stand there and do nothing myself.

Eventually the family has an appointment with the hospital administrator. He of course is attempts to protect the hospital's reputation. Instead he tells them a couple things about the incident involving the nurse. This is when they decide to go to the police and press charges. Where eventually Ruth is arrested. Ruth hires a malpractice lawyer, name Kennedy.

 I enjoyed reading the relationship of her lawyer and Ruth. The self realization that even though she thought she didn't see the color of her skin. She realized that wasn't necessarily so. There is part of the story where Ruth and Kennedy go into a store. Where as soon as Ruth goes in the store manager is suspicious and watching her.

Ruth and her sister are both from the same family. Her sister Ruth is lighter skin. Which makes the book interesting. Because even in the black community. Blackness causes friction and faction in the black community. Rachel is much bitter with life, than Ruth. Where Ruth was able to get out the community and build a better life than she and her sister.

Her son and her lived in a white picket fence in a white neighborhood. He had many white friends and didn't realize there was a difference growing up. But, when his mother was arrested it greatly affected him.

The alternate chapters of Ruth, Kennedy, and Turk made for interested reading. It was just difficult to read when Turk was talking, as well as Brittany about their hate. There is a surprise twist close to the end of the book that changes the perspective of the story. That I think was contrived.

One thing I did learn about the hate groups, white supremacists groups. They have been able to spread their hate, and have gotten more followers because of social media, and the news outlets unfortunately. I  was not aware of it. We all thought this had to do with our political climate. But, it has been there for years. Just let it go on, and on. There has been so many hate rallies from years past. We just forget about it. Perhaps because it is just too hard to face. We just have been wearing rose colored glasses. I was reminded yesterday of the years past of the hate, and history of the hate in this country by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.

The book made me question myself after reading the novel. What it must be like for an Afro-American. I have always lived in a white neighborhood. Been among mostly white people. I was thinking how I would feel in certain circumstances if I wa Afro-American. Wow! why I never thought about it before,  It shames me. I think the book would do the same to you. As a white person looking in.

When I was growing up I lived in the suburbs of Detroit in the 60's. Living through the riots. Police brutality that was going on then. Still goes on now. Why has nothing changed? I lived in a white neighborhood. The injustices that went on then, and is still going on now.  Why, is it still going on? Because we have blinders on. Because we are suspicious of each other.

I believe things happen for a reason. I truly hope that things for the better will happen after what happened in Charlottesville.  Yes, Trump is our president. But, it is we, the people that can make the changes. Look what has been happening since he took office. Grassroot marches and rallies have changed things. We never thought would happen. He is just a figure head and is insignificant as far as I am concerned.

But, will it change anything? probably not. Unless President Trump really means what he says by actions. Not just by words. If congress and senate will actually talk about it. They will make changes in our society how people of color are treated.  I can always hope, pray that things will change.

I don't know if it is ironic but I just saw the movie, Detroit. Which was about the Detroit riots '67. I just recently realized that I get so riled about about social injustices. It's funny those are the books I like to read lately.  After seeing the movie, Detroit which was a week ago. I started doing my own research and searching books about civil rights. Which I have ignored until lately since Trump has taken office.

If this bothers you as much as me. Keep posting on social media and talk about it.

If you are interested check out Ta-Nehisi Coates on youtube. He also writes for the Atlantic and has written many articles. He has also written Between The World and Me.












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