Book Review: Small Great Things

Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.

Because of school and other stuff going on in my life, I have not only not had the time needed to be the reader I used to be, but I can’t sit still and focus long enough to finish a book. I was literally counting down the days until Jodi Picoult’s newest book came out. At last Small Great Things was finally available to us (in October I think) and I ran out to the store to get it. I was full of all this hope that Picoult’s most recent book was going to get me out of my slump and renew my reading obsession.

While Small Great Things didn’t jump start my obsession for reading, it did give me some much needed highs. I was all about this book for a couple weeks and then life got in the way and then a couple weeks ago I was on a plane and just powered through. Although this did not become my new favorite Picoult novel, I would put it at maybe fourth or fifth. To my dismay, I found this novel to be one of the most predictable novels she has ever written. I typically look forward to the crazy twist endings that always blow my mind, but I managed to guess the ending to this one fairly early, but that doesn’t mean her goal for writing this book was not achieved, because it was!

Small Great Things absolutely opened my eyes to the way I view race as well as the way I view racism in my own life. 

Without giving anything away – Small Great Things is a book about Ruth Jefferson, a black neonatal nurse in New England. One day, Ruth is assigned to a couple who has just given birth to a baby boy. Ruth goes in to tend to the family and to her dismay is not treated respectfully and is asked to get her superior. After the couple speaks to her supervisor, Ruth is taken off the case and a note is placed in the baby boy’s file saying no black employees may touch this child. Well Ruth is the only black employee at the hospital. Not too long later, the hospital is understaffed and the nurse who was assigned to the baby boy’s case has to rush to surgery for an emergency c-section, so she asks Ruth to watch over the baby boy after his circumcision expecting to be back ASAP. Unexpectedly, the baby boy goes into cardiac arrest and Ruth has to decide whether she is going to try and save his life or do what the note in his file requests. Ruth attempts to save his life, but the baby boy dies anyway. The couple blames Ruth and sues her. With the help of a white public defender, Ruth fights not only for her life, but for the truth to be heard and for race to play a factor in the courtroom.

Reading this book as a white person, I felt very self-aware and found myself becoming defensive at certain points, especially during the jury dury portion of the novel. Then I would feel guilty for feeling defensive. This novel forced me to be honest with myself about how I behave toward people who look different than me and understand that I become defensive because I may not purposely act this way. I related very closely with Kennedy, the white public defender, in respect to how she views herself in relation to people of a different race and her realization at the end of the novel also resonated with me. Ruth and Kennedy’s relationship/friendship was refreshing as well and provided me a few smiles, because it was very honest.

Bottom Line: I would definitely recommend this book, especially to white people. I feel that Picoult brings up some great points and food for thought on how we think about ourselves in regards to race. It is an eye-opener and I think it really benefited me and that it will definitely benefit others in helping us try and put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

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Open Carry. More Like Open Kill.

Can I just take a moment to express my irritation and frustration with this whole Open Carry law having been passed.

Before this past semester I had never even heard of ‘open carry’ or even had an opinion. But I was in a journalism class and one of our assignments was to go around campus and ask students what they thought about the law, if they wanted it passed or not, and why. So before we went out I had to brush up on my knowledge of the subject. My partner and I went out and it was a pretty even split between those wanting and not wanting the ‘open carry’ law to pass.

As soon as I learned what it was I was turned off by it. I’m kind of one of those people who feels like guns should be seriously limited. I know I am probably in the minority there, especially living in Texas, but it is my own personal feelings.  I have seen a study about regular citizens who have guns and the effects that has. The thing that has stood out to me the most is that when a threat actually does arise the majority of people with a weapon can’t meet their mark due to stress and fear. Well that tells me that they will more likely do more harm than good by killing either themselves or someone else.

I know that danger does happen and it does happen on college campuses, but I don’t think having people with guns is the answer. I don’t think that killing is the answer.

I was expressing my thoughts the other night at work and it was brought to my attention that only licensed people will be able to carry, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about it. Sure, they may know what they are doing in a controlled classroom, but there is no telling how they will react when something does happen. It also bothers me that guns can be misplaced, lost, dropped, and stolen. I don’t feel safe knowing that these guns could get in the hands of just about anybody- Frat guys or any stressed student going through a rough time.

There is no telling what anyone might do. But we have now allowed guns on our campuses to see what will happen. Yay! Can’t wait to go back to school in the fall now. Not.