No One Better: A Review on Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

small-great-things-hc-400w

“What if the puzzle of the world was a shape you didn’t fit into? And the only way to survive was to mutilate yourself, carve away your corners, sand yourself down, modify yourself to fit? How come we haven’t been able to change the puzzle instead?”

Before anything else, I want to say that I am an Asian. Filipino to be specific. I do not live in the United States, and I don’t know how it feels like to be born as white or black. Maybe that would give me a reason not to judge both race. Maybe that would mean I am unauthorized to take sides since I wasn’t born in their shoes. Yes folks, I don’t know how to be them. But I know the difference between right and wrong, and if there’s one thing that I can’t stand? That is injustice.

I’m saying this because in this latest novel “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult, she writes about one of the most critical issues of today-RACISM. Personally, I was a little hesitant if I’m going to pick this book up since Picoult has had a record of making me emotional (specifically cry) numerous times with her novels. I wasn’t sure about doing this review either since this is such a sensitive topic. For me, Jodi has outdone herself in this. To have the courage to write something about races is something to be commended. Upon reading her novel, people might get defensive, others may be offended or mad. As a renowned and multi awarded novelist, that can be bad for her.

The story is about Ruth Brooks. She is a loving mother, a responsible daughter, and a hardworking and dedicated Labor and Delivery Nurse for 20 years. She has a steady job, an intelligent, obedient, kind son, a circle of friends and a peaceful neighborhood. Ruth could have lived the perfect and happy life she always strives to have. Except one thing always keeps in the way- she was born black.

Then there was Turk and Brittany Bauer. They were White Supremacists who changed Ruth’s life from being steady to chaotic. It was when they banned Ruth from getting involved from their newly born child. It was when Ruth was the only person in the nursery when their child was dying. It was when she did not know what to do. Would she stay away from the child, or go and try to save him though she was forbidden to?

I really admired Ruth’s persistence. It was hard, she struggles everyday, but she keeps going. It was hard not to like her and get mad whenever she gets so blamed throughout the book. But I think the character who evolved and has had a lot of realization is Kennedy McQuarrie. She’s Ruth’s lawyer, but more than that she was an eye opener. She made me realize that that “putting yourself in other people’s shoes” saying doesn’t do all the trick. She rocked it and she is really one character to watch out for.

I’ve always loved the courtroom scenes in a Jodi Picoult novel. These are the parts where I usually get hyped (and want to punch a wall. haha) and I think Small Great Things adds up to my list of favorites. I knew even before I opened this book that there will be a lot of cliff-hanging chapters, self-reflecting statements, and sizzling courtroom scenes. It was very well-written. Kennedy’s closing speech brought tears to my eyes and was one of the reasons that I came to love her.

I tried to know more about White Supremacy after reading this book. And frankly, I wasn’t quite done with my research. But reading more about it made me understand Turk and Brittany’s behaviors and beliefs a lot more.

I’ve said it before I started this review. I am not White or Black. But it does not mean I have never seen inequality. It does not mean I’ve never seen prejudice and race discrimination. My own race has been colonized by Spaniards, Americans and Japanese. It did make up of what we became now, but for too many years, we were treated as slaves, and those colonizers as superior to us. Too many Filipinos died over these colonizing era. For too long we were regarded as “indios”, and even up to the present, despite how far we’ve become as a republic, there’s no denying that the Philippines is still a third world country. Still behind the countries that colonized us. Sometimes discriminated, many times looked down upon.

Maybe that is a bad thing. Maybe not. Maybe that is the reason why I related so much with this novel. Good times comes to us, sometimes we strive hard to achieve it. But then, we could look back and remember where we came from and the struggles behind our success. It’s like a replay of episodes in our minds. And that’s what I think, is the fallback of Ruth’s character. She always hope life would be better and equal for her and her son. But she also knew, that the race issue would come up anytime. She was always waiting for it. In the back of her mind, when an unusual situation arises, she would blame it for her being African-American. That same reason over and over again.

I had some issues with the ending though. And I kind of understand that she wanted her readers to see something beyond the issue by making something out of the characters. It just appeared too idealistic, for me. But all in all it is a very good book. A page turner and still, as always, very emotional and moving. It would make you question your reasoning, but at the same time would allow us to reflect on ourselves.

It is a four out of five for me. It was indeed, a work of fiction, but it talks about reality. The reality of what’s been going on not just in America,  but all around the world. Great attempt for Jodi Picoult in trying to open our minds and touch our hearts!

Remember the F Word

I remember the last time we stood like ourselves

We were then hidden behind those books stacked in the shelves

Do you still remember that time when we all started with nothing?

And how come now, it feels like we can conquer everything?

 

I remember the first day of high school

Back then our classmates act like they’re so cool

I’ve known some of them but each one felt like a stranger

And when we’re together, It felt like I’ve known you since forever

 

All my years in high school has been significant to me

That time it became a place where I belong to be

There, I always come not just to learn

I came to build memories that I know never will burn

 

I remember how we laugh so hard till we can hardly breathe

And how we make fun of ourselves until we stomp our feet

Back then we seemed so happy and carefree

We’re like birds starting to spread our wings and break free

 

What they don’t know is that we shed tears like no other

A pain of one, is a stab to five of us altogether

When one of us cries, we shed tears too

And then we’ll crack jokes until all of us are screwed

 

I remember when they tried to rank us like a hierarchy

When we’re all raised in a republic of democracy

How come in friendship we should be ranked

Maybe that’s the reason that their friendship sank

 

I remember how honest we all ought to be

We criticize each other as if we’re cursing on a tree

We tell the truth though sometimes they’re painful

Just so they know, friends should always be faithful

 

I remember that time we don’t care if we have money

But we still live each day like there’s no room for worry

I’ve lost count how many times we acted so mean

We always make fun of others, what are we then, fifteen?

 

Later on we parted ways

In our own shelves of books, we can no longer stay

We thought our separation would make us weaker

Now we know, that the space we had has made us all stronger

 

I remember all the challenges that we’ve been through

And all those times that were too good to be true

All those memories that stick to my brain like a glue

I hope they all matter to you too

 

I remember the first day we’ve been together

I remember the laughter, the struggles, and the success that came after

It does not matter now when or where did all those happen

It’s the feeling of still being together now, that is already heaven

 

For all those times are like treasures in my treasure chest

They were hidden in my heart for they are the best

When all those memories I do remember

When did we started our forever?  I can’t remember!

Invisible Me

 

When I first had the sight of you, I know its love

My heart fluttered as if I’m already holding a wedding dove

Just a glimpse of you makes me feel like going crazy

All I see is you, and everything in the background looks so blurry

 

All week I anticipate the day you would play

That hot, sweaty look you can wear the whole day

I dream of you without any clothes in your closet except from your Jersey

And also those muscles that always take away the insanity in me

 

But I like you not just for fame and physicality

You’re the kind of man that would take every loss as an opportunity

I like you because you’re kind to everybody

I just hope one day I’ll see you looking and smiling at me

 

When I heard you have a girlfriend my world was torn apart

I felt like I lost myself, I didn’t know where to start

Those admissions of love for her has always broken my heart

What’s with her, I also eat a lot of egg tart!

 

When the bomb of your breakup exploded

I definitely had my party gears loaded

I know you’re broken, but I’m so sorry baby

In my whole life, I have never been this so happy

 

But just for this time, could I ask you seriously?

That can you please take a simple girl like me

Compared to others I’m not that confident and pretty

I’m just me and there’s nothing else I could be

 

Oh babe why didn’t you chose to be a scientist

So that you can discover that in this world I do exist

In this pool of girls that surround you, maybe they’re better than me

And maybe I’ll be a forever invisible fan girl, that’s what it ought to be.

 

 

 

 

I Got Your Back

boy-lad-teddy-bear-walking-nature-free-image-child-6607

I heard you this morning.

I heard you putting on your shoes because it’s time for your morning walk. I heard the kettle boiling, then I heard you sipping your favorite coffee. I heard you playing your guitar, singing along to Leader of the Band. Then you called your friends to come over, and together you laughed until things went out of hand.

I felt you last night.

You covered me with my blanket since I slept in my shorts. You whispered in my ears, telling me you got another trivia saved for tomorrow. I felt you kissed my forehead, telling me sleep tight, no one can harm me.

I saw you the other day.

You pulled out our favorite book. You made me read the History of America again, though I still need to cook. I saw you opened the fridge, and you secretly took out a chocolate bar though you have diabetes. You still ate it though, while sitting under the trees.

It’s been a long time since then.

I grew pretty fast without you. I’ve been so caught up in my own self-sulking, I did not bother to look at you and see how you’re hurting. Tell me, do you think it’s easy? Do you think its fun to distrust people? Do you think it’s good to know that you cannot step out of this bubble because people will hurt you? People will lie to you? How can I even make a fresh start, when I’m still hurting since you broke my heart?

Few months ago, I stand beside your hospital bed.

I look at you and I see the man that I loved. I look at you and I remember how much you loved me. I look at you and I tell myself this isn’t true. I wanted to scold myself because all this time I wanted to be like you. You’re someone who was able to admit your mistakes, someone who showed me how to be sorry, you showed me how to love unconditionally.

You left me.

This time it’s for real. This time I know you will never come back to me.

I always imagine what it would feel like if I have the power to change things.

How awesome it would be if I can turn back time, if can right all my mistakes. If I only could, I would bring you back. I’ll change those little mistakes when I said I’m tired of you. I’ll change how I felt, when I’m so mad at you. I’ll take back what I said, and I’ll say “Dad, I love you”.

If people can just change all their mistakes, maybe people would live a better life. But if we could, then there will be no room for acceptance and learning. We will be free to commit the same mistakes over and over again, because we know that later on we can go back and change it. I choose to live my life. Not to change anything, but to learn everything.

You said I have to be brave.

You said I should not be afraid.

This is what you told me, remember?

“Go on! Do not look back, child, I’m here, and I got your back.”