There are Different Ways to Shine

In the Kindle Single Shine by Jodi Picoult, Ruth has won a scholarship at a prestigious private school which her friend Christina attends. Ruth spends a lot of time at Christina’s house because Ruth’s mom works there as a cook and maid. Ruth feels confident about entering the new school because she had done well enough on the entrance exam to win a scholarship. Rachael, Ruth’s sister, points out that Ruth will be the only black girl at the school. It is a tribute to Ruth’s naiveté that she is not worried about it; she has not considered it at all.

It soon becomes apparent that her friend Christina is more of a friend at her home than she is at school. The friendship arrangements at school are different; Christina has new friends who don’t want to be friends with Ruth. Christina’s best friend is Lola, a friend of several school years. Another friend, a new girl, is Maia from Texas with a stereotypically Texan view of Black people. (The term African-American is not used in this novel).

This is a YA coming of age novel with a principal conflict of racism both explicit and implicit. There are several incidents to which Ruth reacts that reveal different perspectives of youth (Ruth) and more mature adults (Granny at home and the coach at Ruth’s school). This short story and teaser very successfully led me to pre-order Small Great Things a Picoult novel due out in October 2016.

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