BOOK REVIEW: Small Great Things – by Jodi Picoult

Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: April 27th 2017
Pages: 470

“That’s because racism isn’t just about hate. We all have biases, even if don’t think we do. It’s because racism is also about who has power…and who has access to it.”

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Small Great Things is one of those books I’ve heard nothing but great things about and was really excited to read, but somehow it took me months to actually pick it up. Not for any specific reason and definitely not because I didn’t want to, especially since I’ve read and enjoyed a few Jodi Picoult novels in the past, but somehow I always ended up with a different title in my hands instead. And right now, I kind of want to kick myself for waiting this long to pick up my copy. Because there is no doubt that Small Great Things is an emotional, well written, powerful and unforgettable story. Simply brilliant!

I’m actually having a hard time getting my thoughts properly on paper, but I’m going to try and explain why this story is THAT good anyway. First of all, Small Great Things focuses on the very important topic of racism and racial problematics. This alone was enough for me to want to read the story, but what stands out is the excellent execution of this topic. The diversity of the characters Jodi Picoult used to tell this story is spot on, as well as their development. We see the story develop through the eyes of both the African American nurse Ruth, the white supremacist Turk who just lost his baby and Ruth’s (white) lawyer Kennedy. Through this diverse collection of characters Jodi Picoult is able to address a wide variety of issues related to race problematics, resulting in a VERY powerful story that will stay with you for a long time. This is a story that will make you think: like the author says, racism isn’t just about active racism; passive racism is just as dangerous and something we don’t tend to pay enough attention to. But there is more. Not only is Small Great Things a story with a very important topic that is well executed and with diverse and well developed characters, the plot itself is also intriguing and the whole message behind this story is very powerful. And to top things off, the prose is just as good as every other aspect of this novel. As you might have guessed, I can more than recommend Small Great Things.

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The African American Ruth Jefferson has been working as a delivery nurse in a Connecticut hospital for more than twenty years, and she has never had a complaint. But when one day she begins a routin checkup on a newborn, his parents don’t seem too happy about having Ruth as a nurse. They are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth to touch their child… Minutes later, Ruth hears she is no longer to come close to the child. There’s nothing to be done, but then the next day Ruth is faced with an impossible dilemma. The baby goes in cardiac distress when she is alone in the nursery; should she obey orders and stay away or try to save him? Sadly the baby dies and his parents blame Ruth for his death. Ruth soon faces a murder charge, and the one person that might keep her out of prison is the white public defender Kennedy McQuarrie. But when Kennedy tells Ruth they aren’t to mention anything related to racism during court, Ruth isn’t so sure if Kennedy is the right person to represent her…

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Small Great Things is without doubt my new favorite Jodi Picoult novel, and I don’t think it will be easy to outdo this story. From the prose to the diverse, intriguing and well developed characters; from the well executed and important topic of racism to the very powerful message behind this story… Everything just points towards the fact that this story is a very important, powerful and brilliant modern take on such a complicated topic.


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21 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Small Great Things – by Jodi Picoult

  1. Awesome review Yvo! You’ve definitely made me move this one up higher on my TBR…I have it along with about 15 others from the library:) It sounds like there’s so much to love about this story and her writing…I also used to read her books but gave up several years ago, it’ll be nice to try her writing out again

    • I’ve read and enjoyed a few of her novels in the past, but this one definitely stands out from the rest. I hope you will enjoy it as well when you get to it!

  2. Great review!
    I’m so glad you like this book! I agree with you, it’s my favorite book that she has written too.
    Don’t quote me on this but I think there is going to be a sequel and a movie made. I’m hoping for both 🙂

    • Good to hear it’s your favorite too! And that is some very interesting information… It would make a very interesting movie (if they get the characters right and don’t destroy the ‘sensitive’ bits like Hollywood normally does) and I would love to see a sequel as well.

    • I enjoyed the few other titles I read, but this one blew me away. The character development in Small Great Things is just spot on.

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  7. Yay! So happy you loved it as much as I did. It is my favorite Picoult book to date too! My other favorites being My Sister’s Keeper and Plain Truth. I know Picoult was hesitant to write this book, but I am so happy she did 🙂

    • Yeah, I read that as well; I’m glad she finally made the decision to write this story. And it’s great to hear you enjoyed My Sister’s Keeper as well! It’s one of her titles I have next on my TBR. 🙂

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