For Readers

This Was My Book Club’s Most Hated Book of 2017

My book club reads ten books a year, and (as you’d expect from a diverse group of women) it’s always a challenging, interesting and thoughtful line-up.

Here’s what we read in 2017:

  1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  3. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. My Notorious Life by Kate Manning
  6. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
  7. A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
  8. 1984 by George Orwell
  9. Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett
  10. Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult

I’m not going to go through all of them, but the dubious honour of Most Hated goes to….

…..Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

9781444788037.jpg

It narrowly nudged out Lolita, which was loathed for different reasons (primarily the dark subject matter, rather than the quality of the writing).

Small, Great Things drew our ire mainly because of its trite handling of racial issues.

And my book club is uniquely placed to talk about such things because we ladies come in a wide variety of hues.

Some are African American, some are Bahamian, some are mixed race. And then there’s me. Plain old Irish.

So I like to think we represent a variety of experiences and it was very telling that not one of us could either identify with, or enjoy, the book.

Picoult’s crass handling of the story of an African American nurse who is implicated in the tragic death of a white supremacist couple’s baby left us cold.

She bounced from one stereotype to the next with a hectoring, moral tone and the overall impression is of a writer who bit off more than she could chew.

At the end of our discussion, one book club member said: “I’ve never read a book I’d like to burn before.”

I hear a movie adaptation is in the works, which is a horrifying thought.

If it comes to a cinema near you, just say no.

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend Small Great Things, but I would urge you to read our favourite book of the year (if you haven’t already) – 1984.

George Orwell’s literary warning of a dire, authoritarian future is a classic for a reason and holds up well.

1984-getty

A new year means new reads, and I’m looking forward to what the ladies come up with in 2018.

Any tips on what should make the list would be greatly appreciated….

4 thoughts on “This Was My Book Club’s Most Hated Book of 2017”

  1. I am reading Small Great Things and I similarly dislike it. All three first person characters have the same internal voice – the author‘s voice. The issues and the characters’ reactions are often trite and cliche. Are we supposed to believe that Kennedy has been working as a public defender for five years and still thinks it’s OK to say things like “I’m colorblind. I don’t see race.”? That Ruth has been a nurse for 20 years and is just now observing/internalizing discrimination in the workplace? I feel like this book was written to educate rather than to tell a compelling story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You nailed it – she’s sacrificed story and characters to make a point. And it’s not even a well-thought out, or interesting point! Glad to hear I’m not alone in my hatred of this book, it’s put me off Jodi Picoult for life 🙂

      Like

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