Friday, January 27, 2017

Small Great Things-A book review


Review below is from Goodreads


Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game. 


I love Jodi Picoult books! She truly writes her stories based on so many of the social issues  we face in today's times. This book was no different. It is the story of a black nurse not being allowed to care for the white baby of a white supremacist. 

When I was working at the hospital, many years ago, we had something similar to this happen. No a baby didn't die. In fact no one died. That I know of anyway. But there was the case of a black nurse being told she could not take care of a white patient. I was filling in as a float nurse in the intensive care unit. We had a very belligerent, verbally abusive white guy as a patient. On the day shift there was one black nurse. (Our hospital employed very few black nurses. I often wondered about that but I never asked why)This black nurse had been assigned two patients. One of them was the white guy mentioned above. As soon as she stepped into his room he began throwing a huge fit. He wanted to see a supervisor. A white supervisor. His words, not mine. After the supervisor calmed him down word was passed on, verbally, that only white nurses would be allowed to care for him. I worked the night shift so none of this was witnessed by me personally. Just passed on during report. We didn't have any black nurses on my shift so it didn't become an issue for us. We did talk about it among ourselves.No one really wanted to take care of the guy because he was so obnoxious! I took the side of the patient,however,  saying he had the right to have whoever he wanted to take care of him. The same stance I took with male nurses verses female nurses. We had many patients who didn't want male nurses taking care of them. (Once, while I was hospitalized, I had a male nurse. But when I need assistance to use the bedside commode I requested a female nurse help me). I wonder if that is the same thing. Not racist maybe. But sexist. 

After listening to this book I am now pondering the stance the hospital took with this patient. Both in the book and at my very own place of employment. Do patients have the right to request?? I believe they do. But I think it is the responsibility of everyone to try to stick up for each other. I just don't know how to do that! 

And on the other hand, does a nurse who might support the side of the white supremacist, have the right to refuse to take care of a black patient. Does a male nurse, who might be uncomfortable taking care of female patients, have the right to refuse to take care of them? No! Emphatically no! But how is this fair?  

This book gives one a lot to chew on! I give it a solid ***** five stars. I think the ending of the book (which I won't give away) was very idealistic and likely wouldn't really happen. But I like how it ended.  I loved this book! But I sure don't have the answers to my own questions. I wonder if we will still be asking these questions for years to come!

34 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good book! I too like Jodi Picoult's books. I think as patients we do have the right to say who will care for us or not care for us. I have specifically told my hubby that I don't want doctors who have English as their second language be my doctor. Now that could be prejudice, but I listen to some of them botch the English so bad or I can't understand a thing they say. I want to feel comfortable with my provider, know what I mean? (now you probably think I'm awful :)

    betty

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    1. No I do not think you are awful. I totally agree! I, too, think the patient has the right to ask for whatever it is they need to feel comfortable with their care. It all just gives me so much to ponder!

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  2. I listened to it, too, and thought the voice actors were terrific!

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    1. It was a great book. Thank you for sending it to me! I loved it!!

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  3. That does sound like a good book. I've never read any of Jodi P's books but will look into them.
    I hate white supremists so I would probably refuse to treat one, although that's probably not right.
    I do know when I was in the hospital after having both knees replaced I requested help with a shower and a male nurse came in. At first I was uncomfortable but he was so amazing and respected my modesty that I never had an issue with male nurses after that.


    Thanks for giving us a new book to read Paula! Have a good weekend,


    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. I like most of her books a lot. Read My Sister's Keeper! It was my first and I loved it! We had nurses who refused to care for Aid's patients in the early 1980's. Just wasn't right, in my opinion!

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  4. Hi Paula - it does sound like an interesting book with a good theme - I've got one of hers here 'Leaving Time' ... I've still to read it ... thanks I've noted to read at some stage ... we just need nurses, dedicated staff ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I don't know if I have read Leaving Time. I will have to check!

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  5. Sounds like a good book, I think I need to add this to my tbr list!

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  6. I remember when they did the show where Archie Bunker got a blood transfusion from a black man (Sammy Davis Jr). I loved how that show portrayed how very ignorant we as humans could be, humorously so that people could see it without being all offended. I used to read a lot of Jodi Piccoult but haven't read her in a while, perhaps this is a good novel to return to her with.

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    1. I remember that episode of All in the Family!

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  7. It kind of makes me sad that I won't live long enough to see the human race entirely out grow its obsession with race. My kids probably won't live long enough either.

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    1. Or probably even your kid's kids! It is sad

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  8. I was never Jodi Picoult's greatest fan but I've liked the last few books of hers that I read. This one is on my list so I'll get to it someday! Thanks for the review!

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    1. Hopefully you will enjoy it Jeanette!

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  9. It's a sad thing when people look at the color of a caregiver's skin rather than the content of their heart. But I think you're right--the patient can request what they want (no matter how wrong-headed), but the caregiver must give care to the best of their ability.

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    1. You got it Liz! That is my opinion too!

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    1. I never took an oath or a pledge and I think nurses should be able to work it out among themselves if there are patients they don't want to take care of for one reason or another. I know of many doctors who have refused patients for one reason or another. I think it is much like a business with them and they can chose to treat who they want in their practice.

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  11. I have always enjoyed Jodi Picoult. I don't care who looks after me as long as I'm confident they know what they are doing.

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  12. Glad to stop by here after a crazy week and see that you liked your book. Moreover, I enjoyed your perspective and the way you thought through some issues. I don't care about the gender or skin color of someone whose skilled at the care I might need, but . . . I DO care when they wear perfume on duty in the hospital. I kicked them out of Angel's room in Oncology...several times.

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    1. I hear that! We had a respiratory therapist who was always drenched in perfume! Many patients kicked her out of their rooms. But the hospital never really took care of the issue!

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  13. This sounds fascinating ... but, I suspect a bit depressing?
    So much unresolved, unnecessary drama about the color of one's skin.
    I've no doubt Jodi is a great writer, but these days I'm too weary to engage.

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    1. It wasn't that depressing. It was very thought provoking!

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  14. I have read several Jodi Picoult books and they are always thought provoking! I care that my doctor or nurse would be competent and speak clearly and ideally be a caring individual. The color of his/her skin would not factor into things. Sometimes I think people feel so entitled that they begin to demand too much when they should be very grateful that they have the health care available to them. So many around the world don't. Interesting post!

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    1. I agree with the need for them to speak clearly. I remember a cardiologist of my step-father's who was so hard to understand. I would have had trouble letting him treat me. Especially is I had to keep saying "huh?" I agree that sometimes the demands are sometimes just crazy! I had a patient once request that I not wake her up at night! I reminded her why she was in the hospital! People need to realize that if you are in the hospital there are things that need to be done in order to follow the protocol of their insurance company!

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  15. Great review, you really do them well, Paula. I grew up in Sweden which was all white in those day and I found it so very boring. I love the great mixture of races, ethnic groups, different religions that make up this country. Too bad so many don't see it that way. If you cannot get beyond race, you cannot really resolve the dilemmas you state above. I think I will put this book on my Amazon wish list. Right now I have whole bookshelf full of print books that I could not read prior to my cataracts being removed, so maybe when I'm done I will read this one.

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    1. Well it is definitely not boring here with all the colors. I just wish they would all learn to get along.

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  16. Can't wait to listen to this book! It is in my hold bin and I am 23 in line, so it will be awhile. I listen to audio books, I can put earbuds in and do all my chores, sew, cook, mow, paint, etc, and listen. Having been a nurse in a predominantly black city in south Georgia in the 80's, I wouldn't have had many patients if I were to choose white only! I worked in the ER and we served a regional area that included a lot of farming communities, as well as the bigger city the hospital was located in. A lot of Medicaid patients used the ER as a clinic and it was a perfect opportunity for patient education. I taught many a young mother how to bathe her children while bringing a fever down. Most of my patients left cleaner than when they arrived!

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    1. I can only imagine the tales you have from that ER! We still have medicaid patients who use the ER as a clinic. I wish they could find a way to get them to stop. But it is just sometimes hard to teach ignorant people!!

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