What I’m Reading: Small Great Things

28587957From the book jacket:
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.

My review:
I don’t believe that I have been so moved in so many different ways by a book until I read Small Great Things. I laughed, cried, and was enraged. I questioned my own believes. I think Small Great Things did everything it was supposed to do, and that was to help in opening your eyes, if only a mere millimetre more, to show how regardless of how non-racist we may make ourselves out to be, can we really comment on it?

Small Great Things made me reflect upon my own experiences with racism and how it’s affected me and how I reflect it. Do I overcompensate to try “show off” my acceptance? Does the fact that I’m bi-racial make it OK for me to joke about race? (Specifically my own.) Is race an issue in the city I live in? The province? The country? There’s a thousand different answers and depending on your own beliefs, there’s no wrong one.

I know many other readers were skeptical of Picoult tackling this subject because she is, by the book’s very own standard, privileged, but I believe it takes a certain amount of guts to delve this deep into racism, especially considering today’s political issues. She acknowledged the fact that she felt out of place writing a book about race, but I think she gave it her all and did the best she could.

I know no one, no matter what your race, can relate to or know what it’s like to be someone else – White, Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, etc., but we can at least open our eyes and try to understand.

I feel like I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent, so back to the book itself. Safe to say – I loved Small Great Things and its characters, yes, even Turk. While his beliefs are obviously filled with hate it was heart-wrenching reading about what he went through with his son. I can appreciate Ruth’s apprehension working with Kennedy and ultimately deciding to go with her gut. I can understand Edison’s turn in personality and attitude as he tries to figure out who he is.

Small Great Things is a timely read and I highly recommend it. I give it 5 stars out of 5.

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What I’m Reading: The Nest

25781157From the bookjacket:
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

My review: 
I picked up The Nest on a bit of a whim/because it was on sale after hearing some pretty decent reviews about it. Who doesn’t love a story about a dysfunctional family?

So yes, the Plumbs are certainly dysfunctional, but I would hardly say that they’re testing the power of family. The Plumbs, in my opinion, are nothing but of snivelling, whiny WASPy-types with a sense of entitlement. How ironic that they put all of their eggs in this one financial basket they call “the Nest” only to have it fail.

Beware for beyond lay spoilers!

What I’m Reading: Truly Madly Guilty

26247008From Goodreads.com:
Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

My review:
This is the 4th book by Liane Moriarty that I’ve read and once again, she didn’t disappoint overall.

My first reaction after finishing the book? Whew! Like many other readers have noted, it took a while for things to take off and get interesting, but once you hit that point in the book it was hard for me to stop reading! The flash-forwards and flashbacks made me constantly scream inside my head, “WHAT HAPPENED?!!??” And then when it did my heart dropped and well, you’ll just have to read the book to figure out why.

This book also tugged at the heartstrings a little bit and makes you really think about people’s behaviours – a “don’t judge a book by its cover” sort of situation. It also made me think of how friendships are made and slowly evolve over time, changing as we do.

While I didn’t really connect with any of the characters they were still relatively likeable, although I would’ve liked more background on why Clementine decided she needed to do those talks of hers … the rest of the story could’ve went on without that part.

Still, I’m giving Truly Madly Guilty 4 stars out of 5. If you have the patience to get through the first half of the book it’s definitely worth picking up!