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Small Great Things

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4.34  ·  Rating details ·  156,614 Ratings  ·  17,247 Reviews
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 co ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Ballantine Books
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Mary Jo I almost stopped reading it, the subject matter bothered me so much. Luckily, I pushed on as I came to realise that it was supposed to be disturbing!…moreI almost stopped reading it, the subject matter bothered me so much. Luckily, I pushed on as I came to realise that it was supposed to be disturbing! Racism IS disturbing and we need to become uncomfortable with it! KUDOS--again--to Jodi Picoult for making us face another social issue and challenging us to deal with it, full center!!(less)
Marjorie Yes, I just finished reading it on my Kindle. I gave it 5 stars. I felt it was one of her very best novels.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Emily May
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, contemporary, 2016
“The State just sees a dead baby. They’re targeting you because they think you failed as a nurse.”
“You’re wrong.” I shake my head in the darkness, and I say the words I’ve swallowed down my whole life. “They’re targeting me because I’m Black."

3 1/2 stars. I have some issues with the ending, but otherwise Small Great Things is such a pageturner. It's the kind of book you can easily stay up until 2am to finish (even without the teething infant to help you along). True, it's Racism 101 for white
...more
Tracey
I have tried to write this review several times. I guess I have a lot of thoughts about this novel.

My first thought is that Jodi Picoult did not write this for me. I don't know what the demographic is for Ms. Picoult's novels but being a book person for a long time and having been to a couple of her book readings, I think I can make a pretty accurate guess at the demographic that buys her novels. So this is a novel that was written for white women and it doesn't stray far from Ms. Picoult's othe
...more
Deanna
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...


I could probably write a twelve page review on everything I want to talk about from this book, everything I learned from this book. However, my reviews are long as it is so I will try my best to keep it short (well...shorter than twelve pages).

I have read every book by Jodi Picoult and they all make me think. As I've said before I always learn something too. But I feel like this book is the one that hit me hardest. I learned
...more
Tianna
Nov 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
I have so much to say about how terrible this book is. I hated it. I hated it so much idk how I even finshed it. I don't think I've ever rolled my eyes this much while reading a book.

I am a black female medical student. The whole premise of this book is completely wrong. There is no way any medical professional was allowing a supervisor's rule prevent them from saving a patient in an emergency. We swear to do no harm and to act in the benefit of the patient. This would never happen, and if it di
...more
Melissa
4.5 stars

This is an incredibly heavy read—one that’s told with brutal honesty and a lot of heart.

My initial reaction after I read the final page of the story—why would she choose to end things on that note? After all of the hate and uncomfortable feelings throughout this story, how could things ever possibly be wrapped up in such a way? Never. No way. I wasn’t buying it. Then, I read the earnest note from the author following the story and cried my eyes out. I felt like Jodi Picoult had crawled
...more
Elyse
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
THIS REVIEW IS SAFE TO READ ......NO SPOILERS. There is nothing in this review which isn't already suggested in the blurb.
I begin with an excerpt:

"Suddenly Roarke Matthews is standing in front of me. His suit is ironed
with knife-edge pleats, his shoes are buffed to a high gloss. He looks like a soap
opera star, except his nose is a off-kilter, like he broke it playing football in high school.
He holds out a hand to greet me. "Mr. Bauer, he says, why don't you come with me?"
"He leads me into a
...more
Angela M
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a powerful book, bold in some ways , as we have a white author bringing to us a story depicting what racism looks like and trying to tell those of us who are not black, what it feels like . But anyone who has read any of Jodi Picoult's books knows that she doesn't shy away from difficult to discuss topics. I don't think very often about white supremacists . Maybe because there hasn't been much about them in the news on a regular basis (until recently) or maybe because it's so uncomfortab ...more
Lola
AVAILABLE NOW!!

Look up at the dark sky. See those stars? They all belong to Small Great Things.

The Small Great Things at the end is not the same Small Great Things it is at the beginning, meaning that so much is happening, so much is revealed that there’s no way to read the first chapter and predict the rest of the story.

Small Great Things has come a long way. So has Kennedy. So has Turk. So has Ruth. So has Edison. So has the world.

That’s how it should be. Doesn’t mean though, that we’re at the
...more
Brina
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jodi Picoult has been a best selling author for over twenty years. Twenty years ago she wanted to discuss a hot button issue but did not feel like she had the platform to do so. About a year ago, Picoult read where a black female nurse in Flint, Michigan had been dismissed by a white supremacist patient over skin color. Feeling that the time was right to discuss race, Picoult used this court case as a basis for Small Great Things, her current best selling novel.

Ruth Jefferson has been a labor a
...more
Debbie
Oct 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Oh dear, sigh sigh. I’m sad I didn't like this book more--I so wanted to. Lots of friends love Picoult, so I feel sort of like an alien, one standing at alert, with her handy but annoying Complaint Board right here front and center.

The story line drew me right in. A black labor and delivery nurse is accused by a white supremacist of murdering his newborn, and a very sympathetic and determined lawyer defends her. All three—Ruth the nurse, Turk the supremacist, and Kennedy the lawyer have their ow
...more
Will Byrnes
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
…every baby is born beautiful.
It’s what we project on them that makes them ugly.
A drop of water is a tiny thing. Only a twentieth of a gram. It takes almost six hundred drops to make an ounce, and a hundred twenty eight ounces to make a gallon. That gallon is eight pounds of weight. You can feel the weight of water when you stand on the beach and try to hold your place as waves push you back. It takes only six inches of moving water to take control of your car. If you could stand underneath Ni
...more
Susanne Strong
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks, favorites
4.5 Stars
Small Great Things.
Powerful. Thought-Provoking. Heartbreaking.

Ruth Jefferson is an L&D Nurse with 20 years of experience, working at a Hospital in West Haven, CT. She gets along well with all of her colleagues and all of her patients love her - that is until she assists Turk Bauer and his wife Brit with their new baby Davis. Turk and Brit are White Supremacists and they don't want Ruth touching their baby because she is black. Due to their feelings, Ruth is ordered by her supervis
...more
Jen
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had a heavy heart starting this and it got that much heavier as I read. As much as it was not uplifting, there were moments of beauty here that made my heart swell.

This is a story about racism told from 3 perspectives: A black nurse not sure what choice to make; A skinhead who is sure of his choices; a defense attorney who is questioning her own choices.
A tough theme that still exists, sadly, in our culture. It's about justice - or injustice - and how is this defined? It's about the loss of li
...more
Lori
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a 'beast' of a novel for me... not in the sense that it was long, but in that it was a difficult topic. I, like Picoult, think of myself as not discriminating in how I treat people, however, the issues this novel raises had me questioning that. A very thought provoking novel that I think people need to read. As uncomfortable as it may be, these issues need to be raised and reflected on. We can all do "small great things."
Mischenko
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Once again, a great read from one of my favorite authors. The story felt very authentic to me and the topic, I'm so glad she covered. Tons of emotion. I listened to this on audible and enjoyed all the narrators.

I've read every one of Jodi's books and this is definitely one of my favorites. Very important authors note at the end...
Brian
Aug 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
-This Review is Based on an Advanced Reading Copy--

A woman with frizzy hair stands in front of a giant wheel. On this wheel are many many social issues. She glances at the wheel and smiles and then begins to spin it, waiting for her inspiration. The wheel spins around and around and finally lands on “Amish.” The woman frowns a bit and realizes that she had already covered that topic. She spins the wheel again. “School Shooting” appears in the crosshairs. She frowns again and stamps her feet a b
...more
Berit☀️✨Traveling Sister✨
5 Real, raw, and brilliant stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book is one of my top Reads of 2017 ......I read this book last January and it still sticks with me today, really a truly powerful story!

Jodi Picoult definitely writes books that make you think....

Not even sure where to start with this.... there is so much I want to say, but I don't want to ruin it for anybody...

The story was told from three different POVs... Ruth a nurse.... Kennedy A lawyer..... and Turk The white supremacist...

I think the author di
...more
Esil
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
A high 4 stars. I've had mixed experiences with Jodi Picoult. I've loved some of her books, and found others to be real duds. This one goes in the positive pile. Picoult typically picks a social issue, creates a crisis situation and tells the story from the perspective of a few characters caught up in the crisis. When her books work, it's because she is able to create powerful characters who give real dimension to the issues the books grapple with. Small Great Things is one that worked for me -- ...more
Luffy
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jodi Picoult is a daring, talented author who knows how to write new stuff about age old controversies. She can write a male or female character with equal ease. In this book, she writes about Ruth, her grown son, and Jodi Picoult writes from the point of view of the racist father (I thought the 'clan' KKK would be prominent in this book), and her white lawyer who took up her case, Kennedy.

Jodi Picoult obviously believes that God is in the details. She cares for each sentence so much, that, she
...more
Norma * Traveling Sister
Jodi Picoult is by far my most favourite author! She has done it again! The subject matter at times was hard to read as the story being told was very heartbreaking and disturbing but it was executed perfectly. This author always makes me think and I have always learned something new from reading one of her novels.

The novel was told in three voices that of Ruth, Kennedy & Turk. All three were very strong characters which all brought life to this story.

I love how Jodi Picoult finishes the sto
...more
Cheri
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
NOW AVAILABLE

We all have “preferences.” Men, women have a “look” they are drawn to. Blondes. Brunettes. Redheads. Tall. Short. Blue eyes. Skinny. Muscular. Even children, infants, long before they can understand or form words develop preferences, for people, sounds, and colors.

Color, the preference for specific “colors” is at the heart of this novel, or more specifically the intolerance for people who are a “different” color, or a “different” religion, a “different” lifestyle. Race, discriminati
...more
*TANYA*
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OUTSTANDING!!!! This book is one of those books that is educating, jarring and inspirational. Kudos to Jodi for taking on the topic of racism and opening my eyes to things I wasn't aware of. I most definitely was schooled.

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way."
Carol
Oct 10, 2016 added it
Shelves: fiction
The Hook - Jodi Picoult has been one of my adopted authors at our local library for many years. The adopted author program works like this:

Choose your favorite author(s) and agree to purchase a hardcover copy of all new titles published (usually only one per year).
· The library will purchase each title at our discounted price (about 45% off, approx. $15-$16 per book).
· When the book arrives at the library, we will process it and notify you that it’s ready for you to pick up and read!
· A bookplat
...more
Lauren Cecile
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Six stars!
Jodi Picoult has written an outstanding book and shows a keen insight into race, racism and race-related issues. The newborn baby of a white supremacist couple dies during the care of a respected black nurse who'd been told by her boss that she was not to "touch" the baby. She is subsequently dismissed from the hospital, charged with murder and represented by rookie public defenders at a tumultuous jury trial. Picoult weaves in just enough backstory to explain the motivations behind th
...more
Max G.
Oct 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
I actually find this book a bit offensive. I get what Jodi Picoult is trying to do here but this story is rife with offensive stereotypes - angry Black sister, long-serving servant mama, flamboyant pastor, sassy transgender prostitute. All the same tired tropes I could find literally anywhere else.

But even worse is the thread of respectability in Ruth's story. She's the classic palatable Black person; light skinned, educated, inoffensive, widow of a veteran, doesn't colour all white people with
...more
Karen
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5
This was surely a timely and serious book. I did however, find it to drone on and on, so I found myself skimming through much of the book.
Taryn
Oct 11, 2016 rated it liked it

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. —BENJAMIN FRANKLIN



Ruth, a black nurse, is forbidden from caring for a white supremacist's newborn. An unfortunate set of circumstances leads to Ruth being left alone with the baby for a short period of time. The baby goes into cardiac distress under her watch and she hesitates. The infant's file strictly states that African American personnel aren't allowed to care for the baby. Should she follow orde
...more
Suzanne
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I left it too long post reading to write this review. This is possibly a 4 star read for me. It is hard to rate. I listened to the audio. The narrator of Ruth made this for me. The voice was strong, calm and in control. The hard part for me is that it is written by a white woman, telling a story of a black woman's life. The author adds notes to the end of this book, and in this instance considering this is an audio book, is read by the author herself. She is passionate about this book, and it is ...more
Jennifer
"Here’s the thing about racism – it’s systemic and institutional, but it’s both perpetuated and dismantled in individual acts. Most of us don’t talk about racism because we don’t HAVE to, and because we are afraid of offending people. It’s my hope that this book will be a springboard for discussion, and will give readers the tools and the vocabulary to join a conversation that this country desperately needs to have."
-Jodi Picoult, online interview
Small Great Things brings up incredibly impor
...more
Iris P
“I received an ARC of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!”


In many ways Small Great Things is a quintessential Jodi Picoult novel. She uses a well-known formula in her writing: controversial topics, well develop characters and intense, sometimes over the top court scenes. Add some humor plus a few quirky characters and she has the reader ready to tag right along and stick with the story until the end.

But boy what an appropriate time to have thi
...more
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43,569 followers
Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-four novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Her new novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT, is available in hardcove
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“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” 82 likes
“What if the puzzle of the world was a shape you didn't fit into? And the only way to survive was to mutilate yourself, carve away your corners, sand yourself down, modify yourself to fit? How come we haven't been able to change the puzzle instead?” 58 likes
More quotes…