An Evening with Jodi Picoult 

My plan, once I finish the book, is to meet up with any interested friends–of all colors–to discuss.

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The traffic odds were stacked against me… both Chris Stapleton and ADELE were in town.  But I knew I would go anyway because my favorite author was in town on a book tour for her most recent release.

When I get there, I realize I have been to this section of the city before in order to get my race number for the Music City Fourth of July 10k run (ridiculously hot).  There are people riding a party bike and singing “Don’t Stop Believing”; there are kids tearing it up down the street to get to the skate park nearby.

I smile warmly and politely to the others waiting in line.  We make small talk and wait excitedly for the door to open.  When they do open, we calmly file in the building and get a name tag and gift bag each with a hardcover copy of the new release.  I set my bag down and grab something to eat.  There are tiny tarts–pecan, chess and cherry–to enjoy and either white or red wine (pinot grigio or pinot noir).  I choose the red and sit down at my table to enjoy it all.

We wait patiently for the guest of the hour to arrive.  (I can imagine that the anticipation for Stapleton/Adele was much louder and more raucous,  but I digress…)

She tells the story of how the book finally came to be, after shelving the idea for years.  How the struggle to get down a story, as a privileged white woman, on race was a challenge.  How she came up with the title,  and what we can do in our communities to ALLY ourselves together.

 The title, Small Great Things,  comes from a Martin Luther King Jr quote: ” If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

While a majority of the group assembled that night were also white women, we were all interested in what we could do to help break down those walls, to bring us all–including my tablemates, a pleasant mother/daughter duo–together.  

I’ve always pondered ways I could work to bring us all together.  I remember the young black boy at my private school. I would say hello and give a cheerful smile, but circumstances developed later on that school year and he left.  (I have always wondered why?)  Then there was the Saudi Arabian girl I sat next to my Senior year.  She struggled mightily to learn the English language, had a sharp wit and a caring heart.  (She transferred to public school that winter.  I still wonder about her and where she may be now…)  While we had a few other people who were not white, the roster was pretty concentrated on a certain “look”.

I enjoyed listening to Nic Stone interview Jodi and the perspective she was able to offer.  [Planning to read her work, “Dear Martin”, when it is out.]  Her struggle struck a chord when she described texting the author and month ago on her fears for her sons after the most recent events in the City of Charlotte,  my previous city of residence.  My heart goes out to my past city and to the people like that who always have to worry.  What can we do to help generate positive change?

The evening and the conversation brought back the passion to continue blogging and use that as practice to restart my writing.

While we patiently waited our turn to get our books signed, my table mates and I struck up a conversation.  It started with what’s your favorite of her novels?  (Second Glance,  about a eugenics project in Vermont in the 1930’s.)   Then we progressed to other topics.

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My plan, once I finish the book, is to meet up with any interested friends–of all colors–to discuss.  We need to give everyone a voice and hear what is said.

Let’s ALLY together!:

  • Always Center the impacted
  • Listen and learn from those who live in the oppression
  • Leverage your privilege
  • Yield the floor