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Small Great Things

A Novel
Written by: Jodi Picoult
Series: Ruth Jefferson, Book 1
Length: 16 hrs and 14 mins
5 out of 5 stars (245 ratings)

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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

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What listeners say about Small Great Things

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    5 out of 5 stars

Another thought provoking and truly special story

I always look out for a new Jodi Picoult book. the plot lines grab you and force you to ask questions about how you see the world. I feel like I've been waiting a long time this time round for a new story and my anticipation wasn't disappointed. I found this a sensational story performed brilliantly.
Hope Jodi is working on something new!

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Incredible story.

It was a great listen with a powerful story. Looking forward to reading more of Jodi’s books.

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Stayed up LATE

Love... Love... LOVE
Such an intelligent way to invite all readers to evaluate and grow in "the journey of life"!!

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a must read

One of the best books I have ever read. excellently written, intelligent and insightful. wonderful characters.

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Awesome

I couldn't stop listening to this book. I walked farther in my distances while listening to it. The three different Narraters was different but they did a great job at helping you know who is who.

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The Authors note

This book is perfect. Just read the authors note to get why. I have so much love for her message.

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  • NM
  • 2017-10-15

Racism and Privilege

Picoult expertly writes a narrative through three vastly different perspectives. Small Great Things shows that the impacts of racism parallel the affects of race based privilege.

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Brilliant, honest & raw

This one had me glued til the very end!
i thoroughly enjoyed all the characters performances.
Marked down as one of my favs!

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Brilliant and honest

The whole book is wonderful story of the struggles we face every day about racism.
It opened my eyes to a view on racism I didn’t see existed in myself, and so many others.

I highly recommend this book. I loved it.
I also appreciated Jodi’s words at the end of the book. Honest. True. And so on point.

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very timely dor understanding systemic racism

this book taught me so much about racism, not as something historical but a way that being black puts people at a disadvantage in a white society

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  • Sabrina
  • 2016-11-01

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.

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  • Anne
  • 2016-10-16

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.

114 people found this helpful

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  • Bonnie Miller
  • 2018-09-19

White privilege shoved down your throat

This was written as if we were still living in the 50’s instead of the present day America in which its characters stories are told, with mention of Obama, Trump and every black person who was shot and used as political pawns in the past 5 years. It’s ridiculously cliche’d and never fails to lump all conservatives/Tea Party/Republicans into a “basket of deplorables” with the worst white supremacists. I only listened to this because of book club but would NEVER recommend this book.

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  • Melinda Myers
  • 2016-10-29

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.

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  • Tamiko Shell
  • 2017-10-14

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.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Margarito Martinez
  • 2016-10-29

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.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Empty Nester in Washington
  • 2016-10-16

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.

52 people found this helpful

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  • Constant Reader
  • 2016-10-14

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.

56 people found this helpful

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  • HobbyDuckHill
  • 2016-10-29

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.

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  • Teresa
  • 2016-10-14

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 people found this helpful

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  • Laurence B
  • 2019-06-07

A revelation

I never read Picoult before but was recommended the book by a close friend. For me a book which I will not forget. The narrators are all brilliant. The book beautifully written. I would love seeing a movie coming out of it!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-03-11

LOOOVED it.

Deep, intense, moving, thought - provoking, eye - opening, timely, necessary. Thank you, Jodi Picoult.