Small Great Things

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult Book Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead readers to question everything they know about privilege, power, and race, Small Great Things is the stunning new page-turner from Jodi Picoult.


“[Picoult] offers a thought-provoking examination of racism in America today, both overt and subtle. Her many readers will find much to discuss in the pages of this topical, moving book.”—Booklist (starred review)

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

Praise for Small Great Things

Small Great Things is the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written. . . . It will challenge her readers . . . [and] expand our cultural conversation about race and prejudice.”The Washington Post

“A novel that puts its finger on the very pulse of the nation that we live in today . . . a fantastic read from beginning to end, as can always be expected from Picoult, this novel maintains a steady, page-turning pace that makes it hard for readers to put down.”San Francisco Book Review

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Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult) Book Reviews

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- The first of many...5 star

I loved this book, the authors rate truths and the wonderful ironic ending 🥰 This was my first of many Jodi Picoult books

- Insightful and well tood5 star

I enjoyed the way the story was told in this book, from the perspective of each of the main characters. The heavy topic of the book was well told with clear and relatable characters on each end of the perspective. My only criticism is that the ending felt rushed and sloppy. Otherwise a great read.

- Thought provoking and timely5 star

I found myself angry, upset, hopeful and inspired after reading this book. It held a mirror up in which I saw things about myself that I didn’t like. It opened my eyes to the ways in which I have been blind to the real world around me. This book started small, great changes in me.

- Amazing5 star

One of the most profoundly moving, insightful and important books I’ve ever read

- Page TURNER5 star

Absolutely in LOVE with this novel. I urge you to read Small Great Things

- Powerful Book5 star

This is the first book I’ve finished reading in the past 5 years. I always wanted to read books but “ never had time” to finish reading one until I started to read this one - small great things. I just couldn’t stop reading it. The novel describes couple of characters who have different but strong personalities. From them, I learned not only the racial differences but more importantly, how to be a better self, no matter who you are.

- Blown Away5 star

🕯 BOOK REVIEW: Woah...this book covers some sensitive controversial topics in a powerful way. Small Great Things is my first Jodi Picoult book and I definitely will be reading more of her work. Why? Because it made me THINK, it made me feel big uncomfortable feelings and examine the reason why I’m experiencing them. This book is not a light read. I tore into this book and it tore into me. My gosh, it really made me process racism and bias in our country and examine the perspectives of all those it touches. Having worked as an RN and personally helped to deliver babies into this world, I felt a deep connection to the medical element of the story and it was fun to step back into that world through a book. The author really nailed it and did her research. In the first chapter, you discover the reason why Ruth became a labor and delivery nurse...and it’s not what you may have guessed it would be, but it is so moving it made my eyes tear up. I really enjoyed the court scenes and found the legal aspect fascinating, too. I came across some of the most profound and beautiful quotes in this book, as well as some of the most difficult to read excerpts with concepts that made me feel so furious, disgusted, and frustrated. At times my heart felt tender and hopeful and at others my stomach was in knots. This is a book that will stay with me for the rest of my life, for better or worse. It was a thought provoking, eye-opening, challenging read that was extremely well written. Stay tuned, there is a movie starring Viola Davis and Julia Roberts coming out and you’ve got plenty of time to read the book first! It was very hard to stomach the perspective of the white supremacist, but it also opened my eyes to the reality and severity of hate that exists in the world. I truly feel this would be a relevant and beneficial educational read for current high school and college students to discuss within class to promote racial awareness. It’s enlightening and written in such a captivating way that it completely engulfs you. This book was worth pushing through the discomfort to reach the end when I could fully reflect and realize just how much I learned and discovered about my own self in the process. Outstanding.

- Small great things5 star

Excellently written book about our perceptions of differences based on appearance alone. Great read!

- Small Great Things5 star

Wow! I loved this story. Thank you,Jodi, for always writing books that I cannot predict the ending. You always take me by surprise. 😊 I wish all your books would be made into movies.

- By far the best5 star

Book I’ve read in a long long time

- Great5 star

I have never read one of her books I didn’t like but this one was fantastic. I couldn’t wait to get home at night to finish it. The characters and feelings in this story were powerful. Definitely worth reading, like all her other books.

- Great Book!5 star

I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I love the different perspectives of how race is expressed through each character. I would love to see this book as a movie!

- Wow.5 star

Picoult has answered many of the questions I have had but never knew who or how to ask. The answers come in a way that I have been able to internalize them. I feel shaken in many ways, and as soon as I finished, I started reading it over again because there was still so much I didn’t feel like I ‘heard’ well enough. The opening quote of Benjamin Franklin “Justice will not be served untill those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Meant something completely different to me after the first reading. I read 7 - 10 books a week and have to say this is the first book this year that I have read twice, or written a review of.

- It wasn’t bad...3 star

This book kept me interested enough to finish it, so that’s worth 3 stars right there. However, Just about every character was unlikable and unbelievable, i found I really didn’t care about any of them. The story line was pretty far fetched and hard to believe.

- Great read5 star

Great read!

- Spectacular5 star

Absolutely excellent! A must read for anyone and everyone. It will have you assessing your prospective on life for the better. This could not have come at a better time in society.

- Small Great Things5 star

A great perspective on racism in our country.

- Small Great Things5 star

Not so small at all! What a wonderful story of determination, love, race, hate and accomplishment. One to be talked about for years to come!

- Excellent Read that invokes deep emotions5 star

As a nurse of 34 years, this books grabbed me. The hate and the white supremacist embarrassed me as a white person. This book also opened my eyes and caused me to re-examine my beliefs, biases and caused a deeper understanding that I have by virtue of my skin color been privileged in ways I may never have understood before. Thank you!

- Excellently Written5 star

NO SPOILERS It took me a while to get through this book not because it wasn't exceptional but because I'm trying to balance life. I loved it. I loved that it opened every angle you could possibly think from when it comes to race. I love that it teaches you how perspective is everything but most of all I love How Jodi Picoult was not afraid to dig in to this fully and openly interviewing different races and taking different perspectives and doing the footwork needed to get a great big message out throughout this novel. Those who think that she has no footing to writing about this topic from "white, privileged, well to do" perspective haven't read the authors note. As every book she writes, it touches the depths of your soul and keeps you reading for more. This book is not supposed to change your views on anything but it will allow you to see views of every characters positioning layed out. She literally went from being my favorite author to me wanting to now read ONLY her books 😂😂 forever... lol I recommended for everyone to read it whether you are a health care professional or a construction worker. Whether you are green, blue, brown, or yellow you should read it. Whether you love reading or hate reading you too should read it! Enjoy! “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. —NELSON MANDELA, LONG WALK TO FREEDOM” #jodipicoult #smallgreatthings #bookreview #fivestars #nospoilers #bookstagram

- 5 stars5 star

Such a phenomenal book. It illuminates modern day issues with a touch a humor and does not fail in maintaining ones interest.

- Didn't want to go there5 star

This was my bookclubs pick and when I read the details I was so not interested. I hate the way racism is thrown all over the media and just didn't want to read a book about it. I couldn't have been more wrong. It was a great story, and a lesson for anyone with white privilege. But not a lesson in a preachy, down your throat way. The story braided these characters together beautifully and I saw myself in each one of them. I will see many things with different eyes. A great read that will lead to a lively book club discussion.

- Medically, legally and logically absurd1 star

Do not even know if I can finish this novel. Though initially gripping, once it states baby died from hypoglycemic incident but then went on to say the black nurse was to blame and it was a hate crime - really? No matter how far you stretch, that's totally medically, legally and logically absurd. Jodi Picoult is becoming desperate for sensational reading. Anyone with even the tiniest bit of medical or legal knowledge, or common sense for that matter, will have trouble stomaching this novel.

- Excellent Read5 star

This book had me captured from the first page to the last. I have always been a fan of Jodi Picoult but I think this is her best book to date. This book really did change how I look at racism. I can't recommend it enough.

- Unbelievable characters1 star

I forced myself to read maybe 1/4 of the book, then couldn't read any further. The characters have no dimension: either saintly or evil. While the plot could gave been riveting, the lack of believability ruined the book for me.

- My favorite Jodi Piccoult book5 star

This was a fascinating, compelling read that truly makes one view the world around them differently. I am so happy I picked this book up.

- Wow5 star

This is probably one of the best books I've read in a very long time. This is the real conversation.

- Small Great Things5 star

Thought provoking topic and a good story, makes for a good read.

- Not my favorite2 star

Jodi Picoult is my favorite author and I have loved each and every one of her books, with the exception of this one. I thought I would especially love this book because I am a nurse too. I wanted to like this book so much, hoping it would get better as if went on, but I was greatly disappointed.

- One of her best5 star

I was riveted from beginning to end!

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- Fantastic!5 star

As always, Jodi has blown me away with another great book!

- Wonderful5 star

Amazingly relevant to current issues in the US. Really made me think about my personal beliefs and what I would've done in Ruth's situation. I definitely recommend the book!

- Small great things5 star

This book changed my perspective on race relations by weaving a story with different viewpoints. Brilliantly written and hard to put down. I highly recommend.

- A MUST READ for everybody5 star

This book was thought provoking, challenging, moving. This book has already started so many good conversations. I don't want to say any more. Buy it. Read it. You will not be disappointed.

- Small great things5 star

Excellent thought provoking - in Jodi Piccoult's style. A perfect book to discuss in book group - an internal examination of our personal feelings as white middle class women - prejudice vs racism. Most timely study in our current political times!

- Uncomfortably beautiful!5 star

One of the most eye opening, uncomfortable, beautiful, emotionally upsetting books I have ever read. Thank you for bringing this subject and reaching my heart and mind with an awareness that I never realized.

- Loved it!5 star

I recently read this book and loved it!

- Not earth shattering.3 star

It was well written in the sense that it was an easy read and flowed from beginning to end. However I didn't feel deeply invested in any of the characters and the heavy weight of the subject matter somehow didn't come through for me. I didn't feel the horribleness of living a disenfranchised life nor did I even feel that mortified by the white supremacist, Turk. Maybe the hatred and evil of the racial condition is better left in a biography, having been experienced first hand by the author.

- Excellent5 star

This is quite an eye opener for both people of color and whites.

- Phenomenal Read5 star

This book taught me things about myself I never knew. I want everyone to read this immediately.

- Excellent!5 star

I admit as a black nurse I was quite skeptical to hear how this author would depict a character like myself. Well she did a great job! I was not prepared to learn so much about white supremacy either, I had no idea that so much about that topic would be in this book. Anyways, this was a very good read, I couldn't put it down.

- Small great things5 star

It took guts to write this one and Picoult stepped up and did it. Racism has to be addressed by ALL sides and art/literature does it best. The characters are well developed, the dialogue and prose excellent, and the story line takes you into your own "heart of hearts". Don't miss the author's comments at the end of the book or the wonderful reference list.

- Small Great Things5 star

Excellent telling of one woman's struggle for racial equality in a very cruel world. One would never know the author was not a woman of color. Very well done.

- Insightful5 star

Very well written book. Insightful. Makes you see things you normally wouldn't see. Would highly recommend!

- Small Great Things5 star

This is a life changing book. Everyone should read it and re-read it. Our everyday lives would be enlightened and a true dialog could be started! Thank- you for opening my eyes!

- Beautifully written5 star

I really enjoyed this book, it was written very well and had a easy to follow story plot. The main character Ruth was very likable and I couldn't wait to finish the book so I could find out if everything ended in her favor, This book was also a book that makes you think about how people look down on others sometimes for being different and not even realize they are doing it. Can't wait to read Jodi Picoult's next book so far I haven't been disappointed by any of her books!

- Small Great Things5 star

What to say about a book that brought me to my knees! Everyone should read this, it made me realize that even tho I had been taught to see all the same I did not always do that! Thank you Jody, for writing a novel that gets to the real problems in our Country today.

- Insightful5 star

I could not put this book down!!!

- One of Picoult's best5 star

I am an avid reader of Jodi Picoult's books, I think there's maybe 3 of her total collection that I haven't read and Small Great Things easily falls into the top 3. This was a risky narrative to tell, racism in America is a hot issue that is constantly being discussed in the media, and Picoult being a white woman set her up for a lot of criticism, but it is clear both in the novel and the author's notes that she made sure to recognize her own privilege and get as much testimony as possible from those who live Ruth's story every day. I think this was a book that needed to be written, and I couldn't put it down.

- Small Great Things5 star

I have read many of Jodi Picoult's books. This one has struck a nerve! I am white and privileged. This book has given me so much to think about and so much work to do on my awareness and attitudes. Thank you, Jodi Picoult, for opening my eyes about racism and having the courage and fortitude to write this book. This is a must read and the beginning of change in my life.

- Perfect Imperfection!!5 star

This is a book that everyone should read! It's written so well that it'd make you question your own morals and outlooks! Well done!! Very well done indeed!!!

- Intense and Emotional5 star

Jodi Picoult is brave. She chooses controversial topics that others would shy away from. She is an amazing story teller and this book is hands down one of her best, super intense and emotional. I fell in love with the characters and just could not put it down. Read it!

- Best Book I've Read in Years5 star

I just read the book "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult. It was the most painstakingly emotional book I've read in a long time. I'm crying my heart out right now because it was both prolific and painful but most of all it was all too real. Best book I've read this year or perhaps this lifetime because it felt so personal in a way. Highly recommend!

- Small great things1 star

Terrible book! Feeds right into current leftist narrative. Will never read another Jodi Picoult book again.

- Perfect5 star

This book is beyond perfect! I love all of her books but this touched me to the core! This is a must read for what is happening in our world right now!

- Small Great Things5 star

WOW! This book is truly Jodi Picoults best ever and that is saying a lot. Race relations in this country are at an all time low. Reading this incredibly insightful book brings to light so many aspects of racism from both sides that at some point I can foresee it become required reading in school. This is a topic that belongs to all of us. Everyone should read this book!

- Small Great Things5 star

I've read many of Picoult's novels, and this one, in my opinion, is her best so far. Racism is one of the leading factors, if not THE factor in the downfall of America 's culture. Ms. Picoult has an uncanny ability to strike at the heart of the matter, not worrying of the consequences. This book should be required reading for all high school students.

- Small Great Things5 star

I could not put this book down! This is a well-written story that really makes you do some soul searching.

- Stunningly good5 star

I hope every person in America can read this book.

- By far her best5 star

She's written on some controversial subjects but in this one, she shines. I was not sure how a woman who is not African American could write about this perspective and show the gravitas, nuance, sensitivity and strength that is behind this African American woman and her experience. Not only that but she chronicled the strong, elder, hard working matriarch in a way to show the dignity that our elders have shown in their quiet strength. The main characters sister was the activist of the family. And no, not a caricature or stereotype of the angry Black woman but a true, multi dimensional woman. The other main character, we see his transformation and his seduction into the world of hate groups. He's fully developed as a character and continuing to grow into a man. Just an incredible book. By far her best. I did receive this book free from netgalley and it was so good, I have the warmest feeling for them right now.

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@EmilyMillerMD: If you'd like to read more about microaffirmations and how they can start to change work culture, Dr. Mary Rowe of MIT o…

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@sasa_716_: -Love is doing small things with great love - 世界的偉人であり、母である マザー・テレサの言葉。 私の大好きな言葉の1つです。 些細なことでも、大きな愛を持って人々に接し、本気で取り組むこと。 私も…

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@_popofficial: I know some of you are not liking the current state of the charts but I hope we can focus on the things that we have more…

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@_popofficial: I know some of you are not liking the current state of the charts but I hope we can focus on the things that we have more…

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@NycSpikers: @catturd2 The novel Rabbitskin is a metronome on a roller coaster, guiding us thru chaos. Good VS evil revealed in an actio…

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@sasa_716_: -Love is doing small things with great love - 世界的偉人であり、母である マザー・テレサの言葉。 私の大好きな言葉の1つです。 些細なことでも、大きな愛を持って人々に接し、本気で取り組むこと。 私も…

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@_popofficial: I know some of you are not liking the current state of the charts but I hope we can focus on the things that we have more…

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Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. #quotes #quote

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@cjthelmc: Small things..... With great love🌹

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@CLERodB Can’t recommend highly enough. Small town feel, tons of culture, lots of cool things to do, and incredible…

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I don't plan on changing. I like to write j/in ships, I only read j/in ships too and also, there's a lot of great p…

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