At times this book is excruciating to read. However, it is important, especially for white people, to read it.
It is a story about race, and exposes both inadvertent and overt white supremacy. It is a courtroom drama, told in three voices; an appalling white male “arian warrior” (a belligerently violent “skinhead” with a swastika tattoo on his head and a confederate flag tattoo on his arm), a modest black Yale educated nurse who attended to the former character’s son in the hospital, and the white female lawyer who was the DA for their case.
The white author has done her research here, and even though she is the mouthpiece for fictional characters outside her own experience, she was doing it not to tell anything to the black community. White people are the audience for this book. It exposes the culpability of each of us in perpetuating any lack of racial equity. It is a perfect book club book to stimulate a good discussion and hopefully a sea change.
The first half of this book cries to be put down. We don’t want to deal with this. I’d rather do anything else, I felt. But after I forged on to the end, I’m now urging you to read it too. I give it five stars.
There is learning and growth here, and not just for the characters. This author gets you to look at yourself and your assumptions and prejudices. While that may not be comfortable, and you may, like me, not think you are the problem, you find you are better for thinking about this for a while, when others unlike you have to think about it all the time.
This book is being made into a movie, and I’m glad it is. Read it first, and talk about it. Let’s try to break through and dismantle white privilege by the baby steps she calls Small Great Things referred to in the title. Let’s uphold each person as someone’s beloved child. Let’s acknowledge that for each one of us to flourish individually, requires everybody to flourish, including those unlike us. And of course the source of that solution is love.
I particularly recommend listening to the audio book version of this title, which is done very well in three distinct voices. You’ll be horrified, but in the end you’ll hopefully be softer and more compassionate for having undertaken the journey.