This book was absolutely stunning--compelling, dramatic and interesting, and addressing the really important topic of racial relations in America today.
Being perfectly honest, I didn't enjoy the last two Picoult books I read, and I thought she was overhyped. But the premise of this intrigued me, so I decided to give her it another try. When I realised how long the book was, I groaned, thinking I was going to be bored. But no. I downloaded this before a fourteen hour flight, and it made the time fly by. This was incredibly well done.
Seeing the case go through the court system was really intriguing for me. We see a lot of court scenes in the media, but as is pointed out, these depictions are often inaccurate. Once bail has been decided, someone can't just walk free. The process of picking a jury is extremely calculated. Public attorneys are drastically underpaid and underappreciated. For the representation this book did of court alone, I'd rate this highly.
But race is what turned this book from a really interesting and encapsulating read to something important that I'll be getting my mother to read. I am white. Picoult is white. Thus I wasn't really expecting anything great; in fact, I was wary of a white person writing a black person's narrative. However, I dare say that she did her job. The scene that stood out most to me was when Ruth (black) and Kennedy (white) go to a supermarket. Both are well-educated, family-oriented, and relatively successful. Ruth is followed, and at the exit, her receipt is checked.
I assumed I was going to have a problem with what I presumed the ending of this book would be because I tend to hate endings that are too happy. But Picoult threw in a perfect twist, aptly discovered by Kennedy, that really just sealed the deal for me and this book.
Ruth's ability to stand up for herself and take risks was completely admirable. The small details, such as her sister helping her to apply for unemployment benefits and her subsequent training at McDonald's really made me feel as if I were standing next to her and living her life. Kennedy's motivation and openness was inspiring. And while it completely scares me that white supremacists still exist and are able to get away with so much hatred, their perspective was also eye opening.
I agree that most people are inherently if unintentionally racist. I don't think that's easily changed. But I think it can be talked about and thought about. And with this book, Picoult definitely made me question my privilege and think twice.
Five full stars for this one. We need more books like this. I'm extremely impressed.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review