Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Small Great Things ~ Jodi Picoult (earc) review [@HodderBooks @jodipicoult @randomhouse]

Small Great Things
Hodder & Stoughton
November 22, 2016
512 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon UK

(US publication)
Ballatine Books
October 11, 2016
470 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes.

'It's hard to exaggerate how well Picoult writes' Financial Times

When I requested and started reading Small Great Things, I did not know that it was called Small Great Things, that it was written by Jodi Picoult or even what it was about. This was all thanks to Hodder & Stoughton's brilliant #readwithoutprejudice campaign.
I can't know how different my experience with the beginning of the book (until I read enough of the description of Small Great Things to know they were the same) was not knowing any of the book's details, but I know that it was different. Whether it's intentional or not, we do make judgments about books based on the author (their name, past work, age, gender, race, sexuality, etc).I liked having that removed. (Though, honestly, it did make me a bit anxious at first.)

US Cover
Small Great Things is uncomfortable in places, enlightening in (some of the same) places and a really compelling story. It asks us questions that many may not have asked themselves,  at least not in such a forthright and unflinching way. It also provides some answers to questions you may not want to ask or may not like.

The author does a really nice job making this a story about race, racism, privilege and power not making it a 'message' book. It is about the characters - Ruth, Kennedy, Turk, Brittany, Edison, etc - and how those things impact and shape their lives. I didn't like Turk, I wasn't even sure I always liked Ruth or Kennedy, and Brittany did whatever the opposite of growing on me was, but they all played pivotal roles in a very compelling read.

There was a section of the book that felt like its inclusion/depiction of racism and prejudice was too concentrated (it was each character, seemingly every scene) but things were otherwise well spaced and well paced and seemed to do a good job illustrating what the other characters faced, how they felt, or why they made the choices they did.

I don't want to be too specific about anything because I really liked reading this book and not knowing what it was about or what to expect. It is a book I know that I will think about for a long time to come and hope to talk to people about, as well.

There's also "Shine" a prequel short story (reviewed here)

review copy received, thanks to Hodder & Stoughton, via NetGalley

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