Jodi Picoult is one of those authors I think of as “easy reading.” Her books are written in a way where thing are pretty well laid out for the reader. She does tackle topics that can be controversial or morally ambiguous but does it in a gentle way where she’s not alienating most readers. I found out that my mom’s book club was reading this book and purchased a copy for her, and figured I would read it myself.
The book is the story of Ruth Jefferson, a black Labor and Delivery nurse, who works in a hospital and loves her job. Then one day, these white supremacists have a baby in her hospital, and when they see Ruth handling their baby, they immediately call for her supervisor to get her removed from touching their lily-white offspring. But of course, Ruth ends up having to watch over the baby for a few minutes after a routine operation, and of course, her ethics of having to help conflict with her direct order to not touch the baby. And then the baby dies, maybe because Ruth didn’t jump to saving him, and the white supremacists decide to take Ruth and the hospital to court.
The novel is intercut with chapters from Ruth, the white supremacist father, and Kennedy who is the white lady lawyer who ends up learning a lot. The novel actually does get into racial issues a lot, but in a fairly soft way. Both Kennedy and the white supremacist father grow and learn a little in the process. According to the afterword by the author, she did a lot of research talking to both black people and also white supremacists. I did find some of the descriptions of skinhead rallies and stuff to be a little bit difficult and disgusting to read, wasn’t sure if the author really needed to go that far with humanizing those assholes. Reading this book didn’t really open my eyes, but I could see how someone who is a little less “woke” might have a revelation after reading it. Still it’s good to have stuff like this as mainstream but I think it would have been a different (and more interesting) book actually written by a person of color.