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Small Great Things

A Novel
Series: Ruth Jefferson, Book 1
Length: 16 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (24,706 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner, 2017 APA Audie Awards - Multi-Voiced Performance

This stunning new novel is Jodi Picoult at her finest - complete with unflinching insights, richly layered characters, and a pause-resisting plot with a gripping moral dilemma at its heart.

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than 20 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.

©2016 Jodi Picoult (P)2016 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Must Read

Must read for everyone! I was a little hesitant to read at first being a black woman and doubting our represtation by a non black author. To my pleasant surprise Picoult hit the mark and truly embodied Ruth. The obstacle and fears Ruth expressed are truly daily concerns that plagues us. Loved this book.

87 of 92 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Hard to read for several reasons

Picoult almost always makes me think. And Small Great Things is no exception. It's "ripped from the headlines" and fairly well done.

The setup and development of the plot were well done but the big "plot twist" was manipulative. I'm not going to provide any spoilers, but as soon as I saw it coming, I was annoyed with the author.

The main characters (Ruth; her son; her sister; Turk and Brittany, her accusers; and Kennedy, her public defender) were well drawn if painfully close to stereotypes - or maybe archetypes. This bothered me. She also had some very preachy moments in that she put lots and lots of words in the characters' minds so that lessons could be conveyed. These factors detracted from what was otherwise a pretty good book.

On the other hand, Picoult really made me think about some painful truths about race relations in America. One of the best things seemed to be her successful attempt to let her readers at least come close to understanding how "the other" feels.

For this I am grateful. I recommend the book.

109 of 116 people found this review helpful

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There aren't enough stars for this perspective altering story.

Jodi Picoult has me in awe. The story and the way it's told will forever change the way I view people and hopefully my interactions with those who are different from me. I'm grateful for this book and plan to hand it to many people this Christmas.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

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WOW! Great book. A must read.

I honestly have never read a book that isn't a mystery or thriller. Yet this book was highly recommended. This book has left me truly thinking & feeling all the pain with Ruth & Kennedy. I was haunted for days of how she educated us without trying . I love the social justice in this book and how every individual may walk away feeling something but it brings societies ignorance with social justice even if we think it doesn't affect them. I truly loved the way our author wrote this book. She took every aspect of this book & gave you the insight of how they think or feel. I never saw the ending coming, I never expected the twist with Brittany. But most of all, I love the story, the journey & the title of this book.

Read the last chapter, the author expresses why she choose this storyline. So well done.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Unable to get this book out of my head!

Best book I've read or listened to in a very long time. The narrators are stellar. The story line so relevant to today. Most importantly I was drawn in and felt like I was Ruth.

50 of 57 people found this review helpful

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WOW

Upon reading the synopsis, I was a little suspect about this novel. Frankly, it sounded as if it could easily set me up to be disappointed and I really liked Jodi Picout too much to be disappointed by one of her novels. I preordered the book and began it in the first day it arrived.

Why did I love this book? Because I've lived this book and it felt as if Jodi looked into my heart, mind and soul to craft this novel . It felt as if she became a sister from another mother and gave voice to my greatest fears and angst. Thank you for putting the voice that resonates inside my head into words that others can read:listen to and understand.

55 of 63 people found this review helpful

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Rolled my eyes

When I saw the subject matter and that the author was white, I rolled my eyes. I thought here was go again, another white author trying to tell a story from a black perspective. I continued to roll my eyes through at least a third of the book. Then I realized she’s telling my story, my husband’s story, my sister’s and my friend’s stories. The book is told in such a way I forgot the author was white and appreciated the work. I’ve recommended it to several friends of all races. Can’t wait to hear their reactions.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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This Book Should Be Required Reading

What did you love best about Small Great Things?

The view from all three characters was so enlightening. It really got you into the mindset of how those individuals thought and lived their lives.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Small Great Things?

The best moment was Kennedy's closing arguments. She was so eloquent and really gave me (a black woman) something to think about.

Which scene was your favorite?

After the verdict on the courthouse steps.

Who was the most memorable character of Small Great Things and why?

Of course, Ruth Jefferson. I liked her, I loved her, she made me mad, I empathized with her, I felt her pain and I understood her relief.

Any additional comments?

This book should be made into a movie, but only because the people who really would benefit from reading it won't or don't read. Movies usually don't do books justice, but this topic is so important it needs to sprout wings and fly!! I recommend it to everyone.

31 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • Teresa
  • Southeastern IL, United States
  • 10-14-16

WOW! Powerful!

I highly recommend this book! I started reading this book as an Advance Copy ebook and bought the audio as soon as it was available. I had some painting to do and didn't want to put the story to the side. The narrators do a fabulous job! Whichever method you choose, you need to get started. It will make you think and rethink. It will stretch your emotions every which way. Another great Picoult!

26 of 31 people found this review helpful

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Well that stung a bit, but thanks!

For once I can finally see, just a little bit mind you, why there's so much anger emanating from blacks towards whites who've not done anything specifically racist, but rather have simply benefited from being in the majority.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful