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Small Great Things

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


#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

“A gripping courtroom drama . . . Given the current political climate it is quite prescient and worthwhile. . . . This is a writer who understands her characters inside and out.”—Roxane Gay, The New York Times Book Review

“I couldn’t put it down. Her best yet!”New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman

“A compelling, can’t-put-it-down drama with a trademark [Jodi] Picoult twist.”Good Housekeeping

“It’s Jodi Picoult, the prime provider of literary soul food. This riveting drama is sure to be supremely satisfying and a bravely thought-provoking tale on the dangers of prejudice.”Redbook

“Jodi Picoult is never afraid to take on hot topics, and in Small Great Things, she tackles race and discrimination in a way that will grab hold of you and refuse to let you go. . . . This page-turner is perfect for book clubs.”Popsugar

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 29, 2016 – Bestselling author Picoult's latest page-turner is inspired by a Flint, Mich., event in which a white supremacist father refused to allow an experienced African-American labor and delivery nurse to touch his newborn. In Picoult's story, a medical crisis results in an infant's death and a murder charge against a black nurse named Ruth Jefferson. The story unfolds from three viewpoints: Ruth's, the infant's father a skinhead named Turk and Ruth's public defender, Kennedy McQuarrie, a white professional woman questioning her own views about racism. The author's comprehensive research brings veracity to Ruth's story as a professional black woman trying to fit into white society, to Turk's inducement into the white-power movement, and to Kennedy's soul-searching about what it's like to be black in America. Unfortunately, the author undermines this richly drawn and compelling story with a manipulative final plot twist as well as a Pollyannaish ending. Some may be put off by the moralistic undertone of Picoult's tale, while others will appreciate the inspiration it provides for a much-needed conversation about race and prejudice in America.

Customer Reviews

Prejudice vs Discrimination

Jodi Picoult does it again, writing a book that causes the reader to question his own beliefs. In Small Great Things, Ms. Picoult is at her best introducing the reader to the world of prejudice vs. discrimination in a powerful heart-wrenching story.

Ruth Jefferson, a woman of color, has worked as a nurse for 20 years in a small hospital in the Labor and Delivery area. While performing a well baby check, she meets Turk and Brittany who are both White Supremacists. They request that no black nurse take care of their infant and Ruth’s supervisor complies by sticking a sticky note in the infants chart. Ruth is the only African American working the ward. When the baby arrests, and Ruth is in attendance, the story begins to unfold. Ruth is charged with the negligent homicide of the infant.

Her young white public defender, Kennedy McQuarrie, takes the case and agrees to represent Ruth. She feels that she herself is not prejudice, and feels that this should be the first case representing a client in a homicide case. Kennedy feels that this case must be tried on the facts not as a racial issue as Ruth would like.

What follows is an extremely well written story told from multiple points of view. Chapters are told form Ruth’s, Kennedy’s and Turk’s perspective. The attention to detail is remarkable and powerful. This is a book about more than race. It’s about prejudice and discrimination, both intentional and subtle. It about dedication, wanting and striving for a better life but always seeing the cards stacked against you. You must be seen to be better qualified than the white person. It’s about questioning your own beliefs, acceptance and forgiveness. It’s a wish for a change in the future. This book hits hard all the way through and at times it’s difficult to read but it is important to see these issues from more than a single point of view. It will make you question what you believe, say and how you act. Can you really say you do not discriminate in any way? Think about it.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing –Ballantine and pleased to review it.

This is , by far, the best book she has written.

Dear Mrs. Piccoult, thank you for writing this.

By far her best

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.

Small Great Things
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Oct 11, 2016
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 528 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings