Ruth Jefferson has been a neonatal nurse for over 20 years, at a small hospital in New Haven, CT. She is a great nurse who loves her job. During a routine newborn check, she is startled when the baby boy's father, Turk Bauer, insists on speaking with Ruth's supervisor, who subsequently informs her she is not to care for or even touch this young patient again. The Bauers are white supremacists, and Turk has requested that no one who "looks like" Ruth touch the baby. Ruth is African-American..
After having worked a double shift, Ruth is asked to watch over the baby, Davis Bauer, who has just undergone a routine circumcision and needs to be observed. Because an emergency c-section has pulled all other available personnel away, Ruth is the only left to do so. When he goes into cardiac distress, she faces the impossible choice of complying orders by doing nothing or defying them to administer to him.
When there is a adverse event, Ruth becomes a target and faces serious criminal charges. The public defender assigned to her case is Kennedy McQuarrie. The book has as its three first-person, present-tense narrators Ruth, Kennedy, and Turk. The audiobook has three separate narrators for these roles, which I found really effective. The book takes on race issues in a way that honors and explores the complexities associated with it, as the characters all recount their perspectives, and they all go through their own complicated journeys. This is my second Jodi Picoult novel, after Leaving Time, and she's definitely become a favorite author. She has a way of writing books I want to climb into so I can shut out the outer world until I'm done.
I had some uncanny timing with this book. I'd placed a hold on the downloadable audiobook from my library's site ages ago. Just when I needed to make my "reader's choice" selection for my library's summer-reading program, this book finally became available.