September 13, 2016
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Jodi Picoult tackles issues of race and privilege in this ebook original short story, a prequel to her upcoming novel Small Great Things. In “Shine,” the master storyteller and #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time and My Sister’s Keeper introduces readers to the unforgettable Ruth Brooks."Shine" is an ebook short story prequel to Small Great Things (which I will be reviewing tomorrow). A lot of ebook prequels seem to have spoilers for the books they're supposed to come before but this short story does not and can be read before or after reading the novel.
Today is Ruth’s first day of third grade at Dalton. The prestigious institution on New York’s Upper East Side couldn’t be more different from her old school in Harlem. Despite being the smartest girl in her grade, Ruth suspects that her classmates and teachers only see her dark skin. She also notices that Christina, the daughter of her mother’s employer, treats Ruth very differently when they’re hanging out with the popular girls rather than playing together. Ruth must navigate between two worlds, never losing sight of the dreams she has for herself—in hopes that someday, someone will see her for who she really is.
Includes a preview of Jodi Picoult’s highly anticipated new novel, Small Great Things!
I read "Shine" after reading Small Great Things so I already knew who Ruth was, about her family and a little bit about her schooling. This short story expands on the bits we learn in the novel and lets us see what the start of school at Dalton was like for Ruth.
This short story really keeps a similar tone to the novel, while maybe being a bit nicer as it's focused on an eight-year-old and the novel is centered on adults. It still deals with race, racism, money and privilege, only through a child's eyes and not an adults. It really is a nice introduction (if you haven't already read Small Great Things) to the character and some of what the book addresses.
I liked seeing some of the actual events that are remembered or alluded to in Small Great Things - Ruth attending Dalton, her childhood relationship with Christina and with her sister Rachel, and seeing the start of some things - decisions, actions, beliefs - that would impact her right through Small Great Things.
(There is also a preview of Small Great Things, with the first chapter included at the end of "Shine.")