63 reviews

Small Great Things: A Novel
by Jodi Picoult

Published: 2016-10-11
Hardcover : 480 pages
226 members reading this now
602 clubs reading this now
68 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 60 of 63 members

#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.


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#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.


â??[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.â?â??Booklist (starred review)

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty yearsâ?? experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that sheâ??s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and donâ??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 Kennedyâ??s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her familyâ??especially her teenage sonâ??as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each otherâ??s trust, and come to see that what theyâ??ve been taught their whole lives about othersâ??and themselvesâ??might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassionâ??and doesnâ??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

â??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.â?â??The Washington Post

â??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.â?â??San Francisco Book Review

â??A gripping courtroom drama . . . Given the current political climate it is quite prescient and worthwhile. . . . This is a writer who understands her characters inside and out.â?â??Roxane Gay, The New York Times Book Review

â??I couldnâ??t put it down. Her best yet!â?â??New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman

â??A compelling, canâ??t-put-it-down drama with a trademark [Jodi] Picoult twist.â?â??Good Housekeeping

â??Itâ??s Jodi Picoult, the prime provider of literary soul food. This riveting drama is sure to be supremely satisfying and a bravely thought-provoking tale on the dangers of prejudice.â?â??Redbook

â??Jodi Picoult is never afraid to take on hot topics, and in Small Great Things, she tackles race and discrimination in a way that will grab hold of you and refuse to let you go. . . . This page-turner is perfect for book clubs.â?â??Popsugar


Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of October 2016: Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things is about racism, choice, fear, and hope. The novel is based on the true story of a labor and delivery nurse who was prohibited from caring for a newborn because the father requested that no African-American nurses tend to his baby. In the fictional version, Ruth, the African-American nurse in question, finds herself on trial for events related to the same request made by a white supremacist father. Using the narratives of Ruth, the baby’s father, and the female public defender who takes Ruth’s case, Picoult examines multiple facets of racism. The topic of race in America is difficult to talk about, but in in an honest and revealing way Picoult allows readers to draw their own conclusions about how we see ourselves and others in the world. Small Great Things is an important and thought-provoking novel about power and prejudice that deserves to be read, digested, and shared with others. --Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review


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Discussion Questions

1. Which of the three main characters (Ruth, Turk, or Kennedy) do you most relate to and why? Think about what you have in common with the other two characters as well – how can you relate to them?

2. The title of the book comes from the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that Ruth’s mother mentions on p. 173: “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” What does this quote mean to you? What are some examples of small great things done by the characters in the novel?

3. Discuss Ruth’s relationship with her sister, Adisa. How does the relationship change over the course of the novel?

4. Kennedy seeks out a neighborhood in which she is the only white person to help her gain some perspective. Can you think of an example of a time when something about your identity made you an outsider? How were you affected by that experience?

5. All of the characters change over the course of the novel, but Turk’s transformation is perhaps the most extreme. What do you think contributed to that change?

6. Discuss the theme of parenthood in the novel. What does being a parent mean to Ruth, to Kennedy, and to Turk? What does it mean to you?

7. Why do you think Ruth lies to Kennedy about touching Davis when he first starts seizing? What would you have done in her position?

8. Why do you think Kennedy decides to take Ruth’s case? What makes it so important to her?

9. Discuss the difference between “equity” and “equality” as Kennedy explains it on p. 427. Do you think Ruth gets equity from the trial?

10. Was your perspective on racism or privilege changed by reading this book? Is there anything you now see differently?

11. Did the ending of Small Great Things surprise you? If so, why? Did you envision a different ending?

12. Did the Author’s Note change your reading experience at all?

13. Have you changed anything in your daily life after reading Small Great Things?

14. Who would you recommend Small Great Things to? Why?

Suggested by Members

If possible, listen to any interview with the author. Be sure to discuss the author's note at the back of the book. Both are insightful.
by [email protected] (see profile) 03/10/17

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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I have a real omnipresent problem with injustice. Through more than a third of this book, I was angry. I said out-loud that I hated it.
I am also a non- functioning OCD person. In book club
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