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Publisher's Summary

Number-one New York Times Best Seller

With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead listeners to question everything they know about privilege, power, and race, Small Great Things is the stunning new pause-resister from Jodi Picoult.

Soon to be a major motion picture

“[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 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.

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)

©2016 Jodi Picoult (P)2016 Random House Audio

Featured Article: The Absolute Best of Jodi Picoult in Audio


You’ve probably heard of Jodi Picoult and her stellar reputation in the world of contemporary fiction. Picoult’s novels explore topical issues through compelling stories that are often known for inspiring listeners to shed a tear. But Picoult is such a prolific writer that it can be difficult to know which audiobook to listen to first. Here are our suggestions for the best Jodi Picoult audiobooks—the ones that should go on your listening list straight away.

What listeners say about Small Great Things

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

73 people found this helpful

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    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.

143 people found this helpful

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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.

132 people found this 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.

38 people found this 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.

33 people found this 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.

16 people found this helpful

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  • 09-02-20

Forced myself to finish

I forced myself to listen through this entire story, because of all the other reviews and claims for extreme relevance to today's social issues. My Overall rating went up to a 2 from a 1, once I listened through to Ms. Picoult's postlogue. That is because she indicates the story is based on a true account; I had been thinking this story was rather contrived. I am completely interested in learning more about what 'racism' really means, what it looks like to those who are marginalized in our society - not just people of color, but to everyone who lives in this dark space. Unfortunately, Ms. Picoult showed her true colors with sharp digs against conservatives (e.g., Fox News is the kind of media outlet that typically shows inappropriate content, and people with "Trump" signs are not worthy of consideration for fair and balanced jury participation). As such, she joins so many other voices for supposed 'change for the better' who really are just pointing the finger the other way. This is not constructive, nor motivating. Positioning this work as one that will inspire others is inauthentic. Rather, she's reinforced divisiveness among her readers. Too bad, because I've really enjoyed several other of her works. Her writing is top notch. Choice of narrators was good overall as well, except when the 'Kennedy' character became more of a thinly veiled channel for what I guess is Ms. Picoult's desire to preach to us readers. Guess I'll have to look for another venue to learn about racism in a 'safe' way. Will be curious to see if this review even gets posted... or whether it will be subject to the 'cancel culture' I see growing elsewhere online?

6 people found this 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.

58 people found this 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.

64 people found this helpful

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Not quite realistic

Would seem more authentic if story took place 20 to 30 years ago. Today Marie would have been reprimanded on the spot. A hospital employee is not allowed to do anything that facilitates racism. If Ruth had the strength to speak up during the trial, she would have had the strength to go to the hospital administrators and report Marie's d iscriminatory act. There are a lot of hospital policies in place to prevent such things today.

5 people found this helpful