By Jodi Picoult
October 1, 2016
Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October 2016 also on podcast
‘If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.’ Martin Luther King Jr
‘I don’t want that nurse touching my baby.’ Those are the instructions from the newborn child’s parents. However, when the baby goes into cardiac arrest, Ruth, a nurse of twenty years’ experience, sees no option but to assist. But the baby dies. And Ruth is charged with negligent homicide.
Ruth is shattered and bewildered as she tries to come to terms with her situation. She finds different kinds of support from her sister, a fiery radical, and her teenage son, but it is to Kennedy McQuarrie, a white middle-class lawyer, to whom she entrusts her case, and her future.
As the two come to develop a truer understanding of each other’s lives, they begin to doubt the beliefs they each hold most dear. For the provileged to prosper, they come to realise, others have to suffer. Racism takes many forms and is reinforced by the structures of our society.
In gripping dramas like Nineteen Minutes, My Sister’s Keeper and The Pact, Jodi Picoult has explored the big issues of our time through characters whose lives resonate with us. Here we see once again her unrivalled ability to immerse us in a story whose issues will linger with us long after the final page has been turned.