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480 pages, Hardcover
First published October 11, 2016
“The State just sees a dead baby. They’re targeting you because they think you failed as a nurse.”
“You’re wrong.” I shake my head in the darkness, and I say the words I’ve swallowed down my whole life. “They’re targeting me because I’m Black."
How am I supposed to encourage my son to be better than most people expect him to be? How can I say, with a straight face, you can be anything you want in this world - when I struggled and studied and excelled and still wound up on trial for something I did not do?
…every baby is born beautiful.A drop of water is a tiny thing. Only a twentieth of a gram. It takes almost six hundred drops to make an ounce, and a hundred twenty eight ounces to make a gallon. That gallon is eight pounds of weight. You can feel the weight of water when you stand on the beach and try to hold your place as waves push you back. It takes only six inches of moving water to take control of your car. If you could stand underneath Niagara Falls you would be pummeled to death by over seventy five thousand gallons, over six hundred thousand pounds a second. Accumulate enough drops and it can carve the earth, move massive objects, or crush a life that gets in its way. Just as the Niagara cascade can be seen as the result of many, many drops of water accumulating to a thunderous, powerful force, so too, many small and not so small race-based slights amass to create a deafening, crushing reality.
It’s what we project on them that makes them ugly.
Old Skinheads don’t die. They used to join the KKK, but now they join the Tea Party. Don’t believe me? Go listen to an old Klan speaker and compare it to a speech by a Tea Party Patriot.There is a steady drip, drip, drip of small racial insults that Ruth endures and recalls. Her son gets a taste as well. If you can think of a racial slight, Picoult has incorporated it here. She uses not so much a broad brush as a steamroller to make sure we get the embedded significance. This is not a subtle book. But while it may use a very direct method, there is much here that shows the author’s skill. She does not, for example, settle solely on white on black bias.
My mama used to tell a story about how, once, she was pushing me in a stroller in our neighborhood in Harlem, and two black ladies passed her. One of them said to the other, She walkin’ around like that her baby. That ain’t her baby. I hate when nannies do that. I was light-skinned, compared to Mama. She laughed it off, because she knew the truth—I was hers, through and through. But the thing is, growing up, it wasn’t the white kids who made me feel worst about myself. It was the black kids.”Ruth is warmly and fully drawn. It is very easy to relate to her strength, determination and vulnerability. Her particular circumstances may be alien to most white readers, but there are similarities in how whites struggle with class that will give Ruth’s experiences resonance. Most of all, Ruth is a good person, and anyone, of any color or background, can relate to that, and hope for her to come through it all ok. This portrayal of Ruth is the strongest element in the book.
Any public defender will tell you that even though the majority of our clients are people of color, you can’t play the race card during a trial.OJ might disagree about the effectiveness of using race in a trial.
That’s because it’s sure suicide in a courtroom to bring up race. You don’t know what your jury is thinking. Or can’t be sure of what your judge believes. In fact, the easiest way to lose a case that has a racially motivated incident at its core it to actually call it what it is. Instead you find something else for the jury to hang their hat on. Some shred of evidence that can clear your client of blame, and allow those twelve men and women to go home still pretending that the world we live in is an equal one.
Then I met with two former skinheads, to develop a vocabulary of hate for my White Supremacist character. My daughter Sammy was the one who found Tim Zaal – a former skinhead who had Skyped with her class in high school. Years ago, Tim beat up and left a gay man for dead.April 28, 2016 – A lovely bit of data gathering from the Washington Post - The most racist places in America, according to Google - by Christopher Ingraham - It might suggest some places where you would prefer not to live.