Monday, February 6, 2017

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult- Book Review

I am probably going to get a little bit of hate for this review as I know Picoult has a very loyal audience. Her audience is so loyal that I had more than a few friends ask me if I had read Small Great Things because it was "soooo good!" After so many recommendations, I purchased it for my birthday. It was the first Picoult book that I purchased for myself. I had read two others by her, but those books were given to me as gifts.

I will state up front, I think Picoult has a lot of talent and a lot of guts to continue writing about difficult issues. She faces them head on and does an incredible job with them. She is as easy read and her writing talent is there.

Where I kept getting stuck with Small Great Things was this was a Caucasian woman trying to write a book on race from and African American perspective. Picoult acknowledges this herself. Why that is important and why I kept getting stuck is there are several African American women authors who do the same thing, but do not have the name recognition nor the budget that Picoult gets. In fact, African American writers are less likely to get a book deal than Caucasian writers and often get pushed out of the market to make room for Caucasian writers. So, it kept sticking with me and sticking with me there may have been an author who is an African American woman who is also trying to tell this same story, but was pushed out.

With that written, what I am happy about is because of Picoult's name and her loyal audience, there are some people reading about race that may not normally read a book about race. That was the flip side to my own argument. I read a lot of books on race, but I am usually in the minority when it comes to my friends regarding books dealing with race. So, here is Picoult with a huge audience, now dealing with a topic that needs conversation. So, that was a huge plus for me.

As for the book itself, I kept wishing the antagonist wasn't a neo-Nazi who loved beating up gay people, went through the ranks of the White Power movement, and was so stereotypical in hating African Americans. It made the antagonist too easy and so he and his wife became two dimensional. They were easy to hate because they were so evil.

This made Ruth become 2D as well. She winds up fitting the tropes of an African American professional woman trying to make it in the world as a single mother. She becomes the caregiver for those around her and sort of becomes a mammy character even though she herself is in trouble. I don't think Picoult meant for this to be Ruth, but putting her next to such a 2D character as Turk and his wife, turns her into this character.

I feel like I am being a bit more harsh than I mean to be as I did enjoy the book. Let's face it, Picoult didn't get to where she is by not having writing talent, she certainly does. Her books are engaging and pull the reader in. She sells millions of books for a reason.

Race is a sticking issue for me and one that I care deeply about, so I wind up thinking about the African American and other Authors of Color who got squeezed out. That is not Picoult's fault, but that is the baggage I am bringing to the table. I am glad Picoult wrote this as it has people talking. Heck, Julia Roberts and Viola Davis are already signed for the movie. My guess is Julia Roberts isn't going to be a neo-Nazi.

I gave this one 3.5 stars.

Here is your Amazon link- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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