Wow, what a story. I recently took an intense six-week course through the YWCA of Southeastern Wisconsin called Unlearning Racism. It opened my eyes to a lot–the history I never knew, the truths I never realized, how much privilege I, as a white, cis-gendered woman, actually have, and so much more. That course set my reading off on a different path, too, one that I have been enjoying, even if there are really difficult moments, too.
Small Great Things is a work of fiction but, like any great work of fiction, the reality is not far off. Narrated in turn by Ruth, a black labor and delivery nurse, Turk, a white supremacist father of a newborn baby, and Kennedy, a white public defender, the story unfolds with an unflinching voice. After being removed from the care of Turk’s baby boy because she is black, Ruth finds herself in the unthinkable position of being the only medical professional in the room with the baby’s health takes a fatal turn. The following lawsuit and trial have ripples that turn into huge waves of realization for everyone involved. The story is hard to listen to at times. The hate infused in Turk’s narrative is raw and palpable. And it’s also real–you may not want to hear it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in our world today.
This is a powerful book and a story that will stay with me for some time to come.