I was in high school when I learned that OJ Simpson had been acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. I remember the Bronco chase, I remember the trial, and I remember exactly where I was when they announced the verdict. But because I was in school, I didn’t get to watch the day-to-day trial coverage or know much more than the jury found him not guilty. So recently my husband and I binge-watched the FX series “American Crime Story: The People VS. OJ Simpson.” I was fascinated to see how much race played a role in the trial and the outcome. I had no idea.
As I was reading Small Great Things, I was reminded of the OJ case. Everything from jury selection and being stuck with the assigned judge all the way through adding an African-American lawyer to second chair the case for image purposes. My point is this: OJ was acquitted 21 years ago. Jodi’s book released this October, of 2016. We haven’t made much progress in race relations.
Small Great Things tells the story of Ruth, an educated African-American labor & delivery nurse who is accused of murder after white supremacist parents forbid her from touching their baby and the infant dies after a routine medical procedure. Looking for a scapegoat, the parents, Turk & Brit, immediately take action against the hospital and Ruth specifically. The story is told through the points of view of Ruth, Turk, and Ruth’s white public defender, Kennedy.
I can imagine you, like me, will find sections tough to read because of how honest and real they are. It’s amazing to me how Jodi portrays three completely different characters with such grace. The words are important. I had to step away a time or two to remind myself that this was fiction because they were written with such credibility. And I applaud her determination to write this book when she knew she would get different reactions.
Equally as important as this book is the author’s note at the end. Please do not skip over that when you finish.
If you can imagine being shocked more at how race is handled in our justice system today, be sure to read Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. An incredible nonfiction book that should be required reading for every American.
My sincere thanks to Penguin Random House for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
About the author:
Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers “The Storyteller,” “Lone Wolf,” “Between the Lines,” “Sing You Home,” “House Rules,” “Handle with Care,” “Change of Heart,” “Nineteen Minutes,” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.