Top positive review
5.0 out of 5 starsOne of the best novels ever.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 4, 2017
I honestly do not know how Jodi Picoult does it: writes one magnificent novel after another. I've read every single one of her novels and given none of them less than a 5 Star rating. She does her homework. She tugs at your heartstrings, your very soul. There is very little I can add to the Editorial accolades and positive reviews, thus I revert to my 'highlighting' of characters' words/passages which I use to at least try to illustrate to the potential reader why they should under no circumstances miss this novel:
Picoult starts right out before Chapter I with: "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." (Ben Franklin)
"Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced." (James Baldwin)
"There is a hierarchy to hate, and it's different for everyone....."
"I smile, but like anything you wear that doesn't fit, it pinches."
"I knew that sometimes when people spoke, it wasn't because they had something important to say. It was because they had a powerful need for someone to listen."
"It's better he learn earlier than his mama that he can run with the white crowd but it don't make him an less Black."
"You don't go to school with a stain on your shirt, because if you do, people aren't going to judge you for being sloppy. They're going to judge you for being Black."
"I feel it again, that movement of the earth beneath my feet, the resettling of my bones against the backdrop of my soul. I used to wonder if a mother could see the shift when her child became an adult."
"I realize that I have made a grave mistake: I had assumed that justice was truly just, that jurors would assume I was innocent until proven guilty. But prejudice is exactly the opposite: judging before the evidence exists."
"It is amazing how you can look in a mirror your whole life and think you are seeing yourself clearly. And then one day, you peel off a filmy gray layer of hypocrisy, and you realize you've never truly seen yourself at all."
"I am struggling to find a way to make him believe that in spite of this, we have to put one foot in front of the other every day and pray it will be better the next time the sun rises. That if our legacy is not entitlement, it must be hope. Because if it's not, then we become the shiftless, the wandering, the conquered. We become what they think we are."
"Grandma likes to color inside the lines. She says it's the right way." "There is no right way or wrong way", I say automatically. I point to her explosion of reds and yellows. "Look how pretty yours is." Who came up with that rule anyway? Why are there even lines?
"You know the hardest thing about being a mom? I say idly. "That you never get time to be a kid anymore."
"I shoot him a look that could make a bird fall from the sky."
"Slavery isn't Black history," I point out. "It's EVERYONE'S history."
"I don't have the words to tell her what it really feels like, seeing her with her own mother, knowing I don't have that option. What it's like being the balloon, when someone lets go of the string."
"It's the difference between dancing along the eggshell crust of acquaintance and diving into the messy center of a relationship. It's not always perfect; it's not always pleasant - but because it is rooted in respect, it is unshakable."
"She wanted to get at the hate of them all, to pry at it and work at it until she found a little chink, and then pull out a pebble or a stone or a brick and then a part of the wall, and, once started, the whole edifice might roar down and be done away with." (Ray Bradbury, 'The Illustrated Man')
"There's a foot of space, and a world of contract, between Christina and me. Yet I, too, know how hard it is to peel back the veneer of your life, and to peek at the real. It's like waking up in a room and getting out of bed and realizing the furniture has been completely rearranged. You will eventually find your way out, but it's going to be slow going, and you're bound to get some bruises along the way."
"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?
"Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into account, so everyone has a chance to succeed. The first one SOUNDS fair. The second one IS fair."
"The word IGNORANCE has an even more important word at its heart: IGNORE."
"Freedom is the fragile neck of a daffodil, after the longest of winters. It's the sound of your voice, without anyone drowning you out. It's having the grace to say yes, and more important, the right to say no. At the heart of freedom, hope beats: a pulse of possibility."
"People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love." (Nelson Mandela, 'Long Walk To Freedom')
"There is nothing more selfish than trying to change someone's mind because they don't think like you. Just because something is different does not mean it should not be respected."
I honestly don't know of a better ending to a novel - it left me breathless, brought me to my knees. Could not fall asleep but for thinking about the gloriousness of it.
As always, I love to learn how a novel got its title. You will know it when you come to it: "You're destined to do small great things," she told me. "Just like Dr. King said." She was referring to one of her favorite quotes: "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way."
Finally, I cannot decide if Picoult's "Author's Note" should be at the end or the beginning of the book. DO NOT MISS A SINGLE WORD OF IT. "I expect pushback from this book. I will have people of color challenging me for choosing a topic that doesn't belong to me. I will have white people challenging me for calling them out on their racism. Believe me, I didn't write this novel because I thought it would be fun or easy. I wrote it because I believed it was the right thing to do, and because the things that make us most uncomfortable are the things that teach us what we all need to know."