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Small Great Things: A Novel

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Cassandra Campbell, Ari Fliakos, Audra McDonald

16 Hours 15 Minutes

Random House (Audio)

October 2016

Audio Book Summary

#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

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  • Roz G

    Great book. Made you think about race relations in our country.

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  • Karyn Benchoff

    A very thought provoking book. It makes you think about the world. Great story with twists at the end. Highly recommend

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  • Judith Malek E.

    Once again, Jodi Picoult did not disappoint. Her ability to deal with social issues in a fair and balanced way is truly remarkable, her presentation riveting. It was hard to put this book down, and I always looked forward to getting back to it. Loved the three person narrative,

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  • Marni G.

    This book was truly eye opening. Racism, hatred, compassion, respect, family and love are all meaningful themes. So many lessons for all. A remarkable story. I could not put it down.

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  • Andrea A.

    I loved this important book. It was intense, eye-opening, educational, and deeply moving. I feel grateful that this book was written. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  • Shannon W.

    Loved the three person narrative. Very well done. Picoult has a lovely phrasing to f metaphors and honest presentation of her characters

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  • Anonymous

    I loved this book. I have been a fan of Jodi Picoult for many years, and will continue to be after this book. Wonderful twist, and kept me listening for 16 hours (not that easy to do)! Very typical of Jodi Picoult’s fascinating fictional stories, that certainly could be very real. I appreciate what the book is trying to do with different narrators for each character in the story, but the voice used for Kennedy’s character is hard to listen to, especially when she does her daughter’s voice. The rest are tolerable. Still giving four stars to the narrator because the story telling is good.

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  • Neal R.

    A thought provoking and relevant book that delves into racism, hatred and subjects that are frankly hard to talk about and need to be. Ms. Picoult hit a home run with small great things!

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  • Amy J.

    Good book. As a African American physician with 20 years of training, I have faced racism starting from very early in my training. This made it hard to believe the storyline, but this book was very well written and it is an important topic. Very good read.

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  • Kaitlyn G.

    Everything about this book was so well done. It was extremely eye opening for me and all I wanted to do was talk to others who had read it when I was done. I also loved listening to the end to hear all of what Jodi did to prep and educate herself on writing this book.

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