Small Great Things

13 CDs. 16 hrs. Books on Tape. Oct. 2016. ISBN 9780735210196. $45. F
OrangeReviewStarPicoult's timely story, loosely based on a real incident in Flint, MI, is told in alternating chapters from the main characters' points of view. Ruth is a very experienced African American OB/GYN nurse, but when white supremacists Turk and Brittany Bauer come to the hospital to deliver their baby, Ruth is forbidden to touch it. Several days later, the Bauers return, their baby now in respiratory distress. Since Ruth is the only nurse on call, she gives the infant CPR, but he dies anyway. Ruth is arrested and charged with murder. Narrator Audra McDonald captures Ruth's voice beautifully, while Ari Fliakos makes the repulsive Turk a three-dimensional character. Cassandra Campbell completes the cast as Ruth's lawyer. Picoult creates deep characters and a fully nuanced story; however, the ending wraps up way too neatly. Ultimately, though, Picoult should be commended for trying to address racism in a contemporary setting.
VERDICT Don't read this title, listen to it. Three excellent narrators bring to life Picoult's story of racism in contemporary America. Highly recommended. ["Recommended for Picoult fans and book clubs that don't shy away from serious discussions": LJ 9/1/16 review of the Ballantine hc.]

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