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Book Review and Discussion of Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


The Exoteric Book Club reviewed and had a great discussion about Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. Some of the ladies in the Book Club thought Small Great Things was one of the most important fictional books written on racism in America. And some did not agree with this assessment; although, they could not name a better fictional book dealing with the subject. The ladies rated the book (on a 5 point rating scale) 4.0, the highest rating we have given a book in the past 6 years.

Jodi Picoult, a White woman, graphically depicted the ugliness of racism through the eyes of a White woman, a male White supremacist, and a Black woman. Picoult was masterful at telling the story from different perspectives.

The Black woman, a neonatal nurse, was on trial for not resuscitating a baby in her care, despite the fact that she had been directed by her supervisor and the White supremacist, not to touch the baby. There are unexpected twists and turns during the course of the novel and all three main characters undergo a transformation about what they believe about racism. At the end of the novel, a small great thing was carried out by the most unexpected character. The material in Small Great Things was appropriately presented by a White author intended to enlighten White and Black audiences.

Small Great Things can be compared with To Kill a Mockingbird, another important fictional book about racism, written by a White woman, Harper Lee. It showed the ugliness of racism through the eyes of a young White girl. It was written in 1960 during the Civil Rights movement, but the setting was in the 1930’s during the great depression.

The Black man in the story was on trial for a crime he did not commit, and in the end was killed by the townspeople. None of the characters changed in the novel, but the readers got a glimpse of the plight of the Black man at a time when the Civil Rights movement was a concern for many Americans.

Overall, Small Great Things was a great novel that revealed hidden bias from which we all suffer that results in racism.

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