ARC Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult **SPOILER FREE**

Note: I received this advanced copy from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, influenced my opinion on the book.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Genre(s): Contemporary

Publication Date: October 11, 2016

Plot: [Copied from Goodreads] 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.


  • This book tackles a very tough — but clearly present — issue: racism
  • The three points of view offer the perfect balance of the racism spectrum and give realistic counts of how race affects their lives
  • Ruth’s determination to prove to her son that she is a strong person and stands for what she believes in, even if it means risking it all
  • I learned a lot about both sides of racism, racial discrimination, prejudice, etc., in a way that I may not have thought about before this book
  • The stark differences between Ruth and her sister, based on how they chose to live their lives, gave me a lot to think about
  • The very last chapter
  • “Funny, no one accused you of killing that baby.” [because I was thinking this literally the entire book]
  • The title is inspired by a MLK Jr quote


  • I felt like the *big twist* was a reach, even for a Jodi Picoult book
  • It was hard to read because of the language, but I know that this is an important part of Turk’s point of view so it was easy to overlook it for the sake of the book
  • I wanted to shake some of the people in this book for being so stupid, even though it was just how they saw the situation

Quotes (keeping this as spoiler-free as possible):

  • “In a lot of ways, having a teenager isn’t all that different from having a newborn. You learn to read the reactions, because they’re incapable of saying exactly what it is that’s causing pain.”
  • “Admitting that racism has played a part in our success means admitting that the American dream isn’t quite so accessible to all.”
  • “Do you think there will ever be a time when racism doesn’t exist?”…”No, because that means white people would have to buy into being equal. Who’d choose to dismantle the system that makes them special?”

My Thoughts: Wow. Just… wow.

This book was a whirlwind of emotions from start to finish. With Ruth on one side of the racism issue, and Turk on the other end of the spectrum, this book was deeply emotional and realistic. Kennedy played a nice balance between the two, although sometimes I wanted to smack her in the back of the head and tell her to take a look at the big picture. But I suppose that was all part of her bigger picture.

As with every Jodi Picoult book, this book had quite the twist toward the end. However, I felt like this maybe was the easy way out. Like she didn’t know how to finish it, so she went with the most extreme possibility she could think of. Don’t get me wrong– it made me take a step back and go wooooaaaah. But that was about it. I read it, I moved on, and that was that.

Despite the less-than-Picoult ending, this book really made me think about racism, about the privilege I have as a white person, and about the privelege I do not have as a woman. I learned more about white supremacists and their motives than I probably ever would have, and I gained a new perspective on the struggles that Black men and women face every day. I cannot say that I fully get it, because I know I never truly will, but this book definitely helped open my eyes a little.

One great thing about this book is how much research Jodi put into it. She obviously does her research with all of her books, and they all feature some aspect of the law, but the hours and hours she spent interviewing Black people and white supremacists and taking down their stories in order to write authentic points of view is pretty spectacular.

Goodreads shows this book as “Ruth Jefferson #1”, and I’m hoping that means there’s a sequel to come. I would like to see where Ruth and Edison’s stories go, or maybe to even have the same story from Edison’s point of view.

There really is so much more I want to say about this book, but some of it could be seen as spoiler-y and I don’t want to take the chance to ruin anything about this book for anyone.

Do yourself a favor and read this book. You won’t regret it.

Small Great Things

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