[689]: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

28587957Understanding the difficult racial climate in America.

Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

I read this over a month ago now and still to this day, I’ve yet to find the right words to convey my every thought and feeling that can perfectly show why this is probably one of the most importatnt book you’ll read given the racial climate in the US. My emotions were only ramped up soon after the elections and news about violence towards Muslims, LGBTQ, and African Americans spread all over the world. And as the normalization of the Nazi movement (otherwise known as Alt-Right) soon becomes apparent, I was filled with equal amount of fear and rage to what this presidential election brought.

This is one of those books that I read with my eyes half wide-open. I was too terrified to see the full picture, but I knew I was giving it a disservice by not paying attention. I couldn’t help myself. The thought that the Nazi movement was making a resurgence scared me. And all the while, I was comforting myself with the thought that I was, after all, only reading a work of fiction. But here we are. And this is now. America has a president-elect that normalized hate, manipulated the unducated, and turned half the country from the truth and the democratic process. He has the support of the KKK and the Alt-Right Nazis. But you won’t hear him enthusiastically disavowing these movements whose creed is based on racial hate. Nope.

Small Great Things came into my life when I didn’t think blatant, in-your-face racism was a possibility. It’s about an Ivy League-educated nurse with 20 years of experience who found herself the ire of a White Supremacist couple. While she was tasked to take care of their newborn son, they ordered the hospital administration that under no circumstances would she be allowed to touch their baby because of the colour of her skin. She’s an African-American woman who worked hard all her life to better herself and to never become a statistics. All that changed when she was forced to make a choice between the order she was given and saving a baby boy’s life.

Jodi Picoult wrote with the best intentions. She wanted a conversation, a perspective, and a challenge for her audience. She does succeed because this book is very timely. Who woud’ve thought that a book that she’s started years ago would come at a time such as these?

I often find myself at a loss for words and somewhat hesitant to comment on how realistic an author’s portrayal was of characters that are people of colour. I’m not an expert so I’m not going to sit her and pretend she was dead-on in immortalizing Ruth, her sister Adisa, and their mother. She went into this armed with research and interviews, sure. But unless I stood in their stead, I wouldn’t know. Unless I’m stupid enough to use a second hand account (which I’m not).

I’ve learned a few truths about racism in this book. I’ve learned that you can be the most educated person in the world, or the most experienced in your craft, but at the end of the day, all that mean squat when confronted with bigots of the world. I learned that there are two kinds of racism: passive racism and active racism and that the difference is  subtlety and your willingness to show the world your hate. This book made me think about all the ways I’ve become a participant – consciously and unconsciously – in the act of racism by simply not saying a word whenever someone makes a joke about another person’s race. This book is probably a great introduction to read if you want to understand the difficult racial climate in America. It paints a disturbing picture, but it’s not a broad stroke.

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On the Night Table [42]: Fall TBR


Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap | The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz | The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon | Scythe by Neal Shusterman | Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

It’s going to be quite an ambitious month for me over here. But I feel like I’ve been neglecting so much and I need to do my best to curb-stump by TBR pile – particularly, the books that I’ve gotten for review. And there’d been so many! This past weekend, I made a list of all the books that needed my immediate attention and have come up with what is now my On the Night Table post.

Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap  is a memoir meant to aid the narrator in unburdening herself with what had been a difficult life. I’m in for angst, I think but I’m looking forward to reading this because it’s sort of a historical, racially charged account of how Slovenians were treated in German-speaking Austria. Looking forward to reading this. 

The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz is a family saga set in British Columbia. I’m always on the lookout for books set in my country, so I was happy to receive this from Random House Canada.

The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon I love Nicola’s debut and have sworn to read anything she puts out ever since then. I can’t wait to read this!

Scythe by Neal Shusterman I haven’t read any of his books but I think I have his popular series. I’m looking forward to finally reading one of his books!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult this is only going to be my second Jodi Picoult reading, believe it or not. Loved her The Storyteller, so looking forward to more of the same.

Have you read any of these?

What do you plan to read this month?

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[525]: Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer


GOODREADS SUMMARY | Delacorte Press | Hardcover, 384 pp. | May 19th, 2015 | Young Adult Fiction | Fantasy | Romance | Rating: 5 Stars

I spent the better part of my Saturday and Sunday reading this book. It was divine. A storm is still raging where I am: blustery wind, rains that are falling sideways, with intermittent wet snow. Perfect weather to hunker down with an immersive, highly addictive novel.

I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this more than its predecessor, Between the Lines. Mostly because all the loose ends from the first book were cleaned up. Edgar wasn’t such a random character any longer, and the impossibility of the romance between Oliver and Delilah was front and centre. It only makes sense that their relationship is not going to be perfect. After all, Oliver lived in a fantasy world where cellphones did not exist, and his world is a place where he knew every single one of its inhabitants.

One of the best things about this book was watching Oliver navigate through life in a constant awe and wonder. Everything is new and unfamiliar. It’s like watching your own child go out into the world the first time around. He got himself into some trouble, but had also become quite the popular guy in high school. He was handsome, with perfect manners, and spoke Shakespearean fluently. The girls adored him, the boys wanted him to be their friends.

While Delilah was overjoyed that an honest-to-goodness Prince Charming fell in love with her, she soon realized that sharing Oliver to the world was not so hot after all. Everyone was vying for his attention and fending off googly-eyed girls was an exhausting task day in and day out.

At the end of the first book, Edgar was more than happy to switch places with Oliver. Primarily because he was tired of being a recluse. Nothing ever happened in his life. He wanted adventure. Well, by switching with Oliver, he got way more than he bargained for. When he changed the plot of the novel into some version of space oddyssey, the book started rejecting it. It suddenly had a mind of its own. Soon it also started replacing characters with the people from Delilah’s world. So it was up to Oliver and Delilah to figure out how to make it right again. The heartbreaking thing about it is the realization that Oliver had to go back.

Honestly, so many things happened in this book, yet they were all bundled cohesively that nothing was out of place. This writing duo had taken Between the Lines and somewhat reinvented it; made it even better somehow. The writing was virtually flawless, flowing with such ease that reading it was not such a hard task. I’ve mentioned this before that I’m not a fantasy reader. But by combining it with contemporary themes makes it seem less daunting and more palatable.

This companion novel is spectacularly good: funny and addictive; new and inventive.  A perfect read for those who are looking for more than just fairy tale retellings. It’s written especially to us, book lovers because it realizes the importance of a reader to a book.

“The book is only half complete without a reader.”  

And it’s true. A book is useless if it will only sit in our shelves unread. If it’s not being read, it’s reduced to words written upon pages of wasted paper. It’s a lesson that comes at a time when I needed one more good reason why I need to put off hoarding books.

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