Lindsay Ferrier's Reviews > Small Great Things

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
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bookshelves: dnf

Ever since I was a kid, I've read books about race relations and how we as Americans got where we are today. I love the way fiction and memoir can draw me in with a compelling story and at the same time give me new understanding or perspective on how others around me might think and feel. Homegoing recently did that for me. Warriors Don't Cry absolutely changed me in my early twenties. So did The Bluest Eye in college. And Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, back when I was a kid. Recently, I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird with my daughter and used an amazing teaching guide from Facing History and Ourselves to discuss the book and as a result, we had some really deep and important conversations about race and discrimination and our troubled history and what we can do to create change moving forward. The book was a catalyst that helped open the door for her to a new understanding of race relations that she wouldn't otherwise have had at the age of 12.

That said, I really wanted to love Small Great Things. I didn't.

In the words of another GoodReads reviewer who was totally on point, 'Ms. Picoult wrote a how-to not be racist novel for white people.' Tracey's entire review is fantastic -- You can read it in full here: She eloquently describes a lot of what I was feeling while reading the book.

Small Great Things for me read like an incredibly long and well-researched list of every example of white privilege and institutional racism I've ever seen referenced in the media and on Facebook -- Picoult's characters felt less like real people and more like puppets whose sole purpose was to act as mouthpieces for Picoult's vast store of examples. In order to fully appreciate how each character felt about the effects of racism on their lives, I needed Picoult to dig deeper, flesh out her characters, and show me more of their innermost thoughts and feelings -- Instead, nearly every scene felt simply like a set-up to get to the RACISM! zinger.

I'm giving this book three stars not because I think it was well-written, but because I do believe there are women out there who will read this book and realize for the very first time how pervasive and insidious racism is in our society, and how they might be contributing to the problem without even knowing it. They might not believe an op-ed in the paper or an impassioned Facebook post from a co-worker, but they'll sure as hell believe Jodi Picoult. From this perspective, I'm glad she wrote the book.

But for those of you who've gone beyond that point of recognition and are looking to dig deeper, gain valuable insight, and read a masterfully-written novel in the process, leave this one on the shelf.
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Reading Progress

August 3, 2017 – Started Reading
August 3, 2017 – Shelved
August 3, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
August 11, 2017 – Finished Reading
December 6, 2017 – Shelved as: dnf

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