Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: April 11, 2017

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 19-29, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

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.

Jessica’s Review:

This is a very intense and difficult read and it will be just as difficult to review because it deals with very sensitive topics: Race and prejudice.  We have three points of view throughout the novel:

Ruth Jefferson- An African American nurse with over 20 years of experience.
Turk Bauer- The father of the newborn and white supremacist.
Kennedy McQuarrie- A white public defender.

We learn about their pasts as well as the current chain of events.  We also meet their families through their backstories.  Turk is very much a character of pure hate. 

Everything with Small Great Things is compelling. You have no idea how Picoult is going to end this story.  The trial is engrossing and I wanted to continue listening to the audiobook.  The climax and ending come out of left field and were so extreme that it was unfortunately not believable.  ‘Stage Three’ which also serves as the Epilogue gave me some chills.

 This is a novel that will keep you thinking about the issue of race long after you have finished it.  There is also an important Author’s Note which I would tell you to read.  Picoult took a risk being a white woman and writing on the issue of race from an African American woman’s perspective, but handled it with grace and well researched with interviews. 

In addition to listening to the audiobook, I also have a UK paperback edition.  This included a short story from Ruth’s childhood where she also dealt with the issue of race. This short story shows how cruel children really can be.

Despite the unbelievable ending, Small Great Things is recommended.  It is supposed to become a movie as some point and I will watch it.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

With the Fire on High

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Published: May 17, 2019
400 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating:  4 stars

Book Description:

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Kim’s Review:

Best. Cover. Ever. Easily my favorite of the year so far. This is one that I bought exclusively for the cover, it’s that gorgeous!

This is my first book by Acevedo and after reading it, I might just get her other book. I liked this story a lot. She kept it real and without much embellishment or polish. Emoni is believable and completely likable. She’s a young person who doesn’t hide from her responsibilities or the consequences of her actions. I loved her passion for food. While I thought this book was going to fall into the same problem as Fangirl, a student refusing to take the wisdom of the teachers and quitting something because it’s just too hard, Emoni surprised me and matured throughout the story.

I also liked the look into the life of a pregnant teen. While I don’t believe in sex outside of marriage, it happens and of course, accidental pregnancies crop up as well. Emoni and her grandmother worked hard to adapt to the new baby and I appreciated how Acevedo commended the hard work and effort put into the new life and responsibilities. I also now want to go on a food tour of Spain!

Overall, this is a sweet read, that combines happy and sad perfectly. There was a little bit of that woke focus on race, but thankfully, it wasn’t much. I really liked this book and absolutely recommend it!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks

I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks

Author: Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw
Illustrator: Wendy Leach
Published: April 24, 2019
32 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: June 10, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

I scream! You scream!
Josh…campaigns…for ice cream!

I Campaigned for Ice Cream is an upbeat, educational, and heartwarming true story of Joshua Lipshaw, who as a nine-year-old petitioned his local government to change an outdated law that prevented ice cream trucks from driving through his town. Complete with adorable illustrations by Wendy Leach, this sweet book is a tasty treat for young readers as well as a lesson that they too can make a difference in their communities. Relive Josh’s passionate journey as he works to bring the joy of ice cream trucks to his town.

Jessica’s Review

This is a brilliant yet short children’s picture book that has an even bigger message: One person can make a difference- even kids!  Ice Cream also shows how important it is to stand up for what you believe in. 

Josh Lipshaw is just nine years old and he sees the need for ice cream trucks in his town during the summer. After all, other towns have ice cream trucks!  He goes campaigning for ice cream trucks and even speaks at the town hall giving his reasons.  And guess what: He succeeds!

This story is based off the true incident of Josh Lipshaw and this picture book was written by his mother.  This occurred from July 2001- April 2002. Ice Cream shows children how drive and determination help to accomplish something, no matter how big or small.  This feel good story had me laughing at the end.  This children’s picture book with definitely help kids feel good about themselves and show how important that they are. 

There is also a glossary of terms at the end of the story book for the ‘bigger words’ that young children may not understand.  The pictures are wonderful and definitely add to the story.  This would be a good book for those in the ages of 6 and up.

Special thanks to Warren Publishing me for granting me a copy to read via Netgalley. It was a pleasure to read and review! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK