This is my review of "Small Great Things." So, I recognize that "Small Great Things" is a fictional book written by Jodi Picoult that could possibly fall into the much-maligned, and I hate to use it, "chick lit" genre. No big deal, right? Wrong.
I will admit that, when I first started reading the book, and I was reading a white woman writing in the voice of a black woman, I felt very uncomfortable. It did not sit well with me. I felt like there was appropriation going on. I felt like I couldn't put my finger on it, but it just isn't appropriate for a white woman to speak in the voice of a black woman.
And then the next chapter, she's speaking in the voice of a white supremacist, and I thought, "Well, okay, so she's obviously stretched herself here." I am in many Facebook groups and one in particular, we have not shied away from talking about white people and the issues we have and the issues we create. Many of those issues are the results of us trying to be colorblind and not realizing that being colorblind is a privilege.
Many of the issues that we create is a result of us trying to pretend that we are not benefiting from a racist system, and that we are not actually benefiting from the fact that people of color are kept down in our country. Maybe we aren't the ones, or at least we don't think we're the ones, that are consciously keeping people down, but, in fact, we are benefiting from the system and their oppression.
This group that I'm in has talked a lot about that. It has pushed me from thinking, "I'm not doing anything wrong" to thinking, "If I'm not being an active ally, then yes, I am, in fact, doing something wrong."
I was reading this book, and every once in a while, I read a fiction book, the last time I did this was "The Hate You Give," where you think all of those books, all of those non-fiction books, all of those studies I read, I could throw out the window because it was totally explained in this fiction book. And that's the way I felt with "The Hate You Give," and, to a certain extent, that's the way I felt with this book, "Small Great Things."
"Small Great Things," like many Jodi Picoult novels, is taken from different perspectives. There are three perspectives. One is a black woman, one is a white supremacist man, and one is a white attorney/public defender. Obviously, I felt most that the white attorney/public defender was most relatable to me. I watched the evolution that she went through, and I thought about what people in this group that I'm in have tried to say over and over and over again, and some people hear it, and some people don't. I thought, maybe we all just need to read this book.
Now, I'm not saying that "Small Great Things" is going to change your life, and I'm not saying that "Small Great Things" is going to change the world or our country or the path that we're on or race relations. And I’m not saying there are non-fiction books that you could learn more from. I am saying that, if you can't wrap your mind around what white privilege is and the fact that, if you're white, you benefit from white privilege, even if you don't realize it, I highly suggest that you read this book.
It is a fiction book. It is uncomfortable. There are times that were incredibly uncomfortable for me. And there were times that I thought, "Okay, I can handle this." There were also times, I admit, that it's a fiction book, so you're like, "Well, that would never happen," and that's okay because it's a fiction book.
If you are in that camp where you just think that maybe it doesn't apply to you. Fine. Fine. Maybe it doesn't apply to you, and that's fine that you're going to think that. But I think that we should all read this book frankly because sometimes I think that fiction books allow us to wrap our mind around something that, if we were talking about reality, we really wouldn't be able to do.
So, that's my takeaway from "Small Great Things." I read through it quickly, like most Jodi Picoult books. It was a fast read. It was enjoyable and entertaining, but it was intense. But once again, I kind of knew that's what I was getting into with a Jodi Picoult novel. And that is my review of "Small Great Things."