Small Great Things by Jodi PicoultSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things

byJodi Picoult

Hardcover | October 11, 2016

Pricing and Purchase Info

$25.81 online 
$32.00 list price save 19%
Earn 129 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


A woman is caught in a gripping moral dilemma that resonates far beyond her place in time and history in #1 New York Times bestseller Jodi Picoult's latest novel.

A young woman and her husband, admitted to hospital to have a baby, request that their nurse be reassigned--they are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is black, to touch their baby. The hospital complies, but the baby later goes into cardiac distress when Ruth is on duty. She hesitates before rushing in to perform CPR. When her indecision ends in tragedy, Ruth finds herself on trial, represented by a white public defender who warns against bringing race into the courtroom. As the two come to develop a truer understanding of each other's lives, they begin to doubt the beliefs they each hold most dear.

Praise for Small Great Things

“I couldn’t put it down. Her best yet!”New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman
“A compelling, can’t-put-it-down drama with a trademark [Jodi] Picoult twist.”Good Housekeeping
“It’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.”Redbook
“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.”Popsugar
JODI PICOULT is the author of twenty-three novels, including Leaving Time and the #1 New York Times bestsellers Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle With Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister's Keeper. Follow her on Twitter @jodipicoult, or visit her website The author lives in Hanover, NH.
Title:Small Great ThingsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:480 pages, 9.6 × 6.55 × 1.52 inPublished:October 11, 2016Publisher:Random House of CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345813383

ISBN - 13:9780345813381

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read This was one of the best books i've read in a long time! It's excellently written and covers a very important issue #plumreview
Date published: 2018-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! Extremely relative and eye opening as to what truly goes on in the real world. Always a great author to read!
Date published: 2018-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Too Real! This book made me angry because of the world today and how real it was too me to read. I don't like that feeling, I read to escape (well most of my books). Hatred is such a hateful thing.
Date published: 2018-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This was such a great read! This book was such a great read! She really did her research and showed the world what it's like from all different worlds. Loved the layout and I agree with another reviewer that the ending came quite quickly, maybe they could have went into a little more detail about how she moved on, etc. Otherwise, it was great. I can't wait to buy the paperback for my collection!
Date published: 2018-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great! Very easy to read. Some things made me slightly uncomfortable but that's the Picoult style. The ending seemed a little fast but overall it was a good fast read.
Date published: 2017-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I must admit that I love Jodi Picoult novels. The moral dilemmas faced by the characters is always fascinating to me.
Date published: 2017-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read I found this book very easy to read and get into, from the first couple pages I was into it! I found the going from one character's perspective to another was enjoyable. Some parts of the book were uncomfortable and emotional. This is my first Jodi Picoult book I have read and it was picked out for one of my bookclub reads. The only criticism I have would be the ending. To invest so much time diving into the characters I wish you got to see every characters ending instead of the one perspective. Other than that it was an amazing read and kept me wanting more throughout the whole book. Was very hard to put down!
Date published: 2017-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing read! I've always been a huge fan of Jodi Picoult's work, but this has definitely topped my list. Working in health care, it was so easy to relate to this book. Requests and limitations made by patients and family can definitely take a toll on the level of care we are able to provide. So many times I was placing myself in her position, and wondering how I would react. Could not put the book down. Definite recommendation!
Date published: 2017-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Took a long time This book took me a long time to get into...but once I was in, it sucked me into it's vortex and I couldn't put it down. Well done, as always!
Date published: 2017-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly enjoyed this book! I love how Picoult always helps you see the story from the different perspectives of different characters. Makes you think.
Date published: 2017-11-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really Good! I borrowed this book from my aunt - it was very very good! The ending was a bit predictable and annoying but otherwise it was a good book :)
Date published: 2017-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book Loved the story line and how it brings awareness to racism. One of my favorite books really interesting to ready and see how the story plays out
Date published: 2017-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it. As with all of Jodi Picoult's book I couldn't put it down. This was by far one of my favourites.
Date published: 2017-10-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it. This was such a good book. Couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2017-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic read if you want to ready only one book this year - read this one. Since I finished the read my book has been passed around my friends to enjoy and they all LOVED IT! Great story, well written, easy to read and follow, heart breaking... love it love it
Date published: 2017-09-29
Date published: 2017-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! If you only read one book this year, this one has to be it!
Date published: 2017-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful (as usual) Jodi does it again! This is very important read and relevant to what is happening in the world today.
Date published: 2017-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She does it once again This is the first Jodi Picoult book that I took my time reading - which this time is a good thing! It made me think a lot. Jodi Picoult has the ability to write what we need to read. I have been recommending this book to everyone I know.
Date published: 2017-08-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If you like 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Not my favourite Jodi Picoult book - but still great! It is a little slower paced than some of the other ones, but a little less uncomfortable than some of the other story lines. Story is so relevant and important in today's society; it really makes you take into consideration how others might view different races and how they live with the ideas society has regarding them.
Date published: 2017-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This was my favourite Jodi Picoult novel to date! So emotional and captivating, I couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2017-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely adored this book! I started my Jodi Picoult journey with House Rules and I not only loved that book, but I fell in love with Picoult's writing style. I figured I just HAD to read another one of her books! And I'm so glad I did! This book actually had me in tears, both happy and sad. Why you might ask? Read it! Trust me, you won't be disappointed! #plumreview
Date published: 2017-08-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intriguing This is a book that will keep you turning the pages in anticipation. Although mid way through it felt that it was dragging on and I wanted it to cut to the chase, the detail and description allowed you to become deeply invested. Worth the read!
Date published: 2017-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If this book is a person, I will give it a long, tight hug Loved the book to pieces! I read this book when it was first released in November and re-read it again five months later. All the feels!
Date published: 2017-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jodi Picoult's best book ever I listened to this book in the audio format. I find Ms. Picoult to be an uneven writer - some of her books are original and compelling, others weak and lack luster. So I never know if I'm going to like a book by her and thus wait to read each page of her books to make up my opinion. This is her best book. Ever. A compelling read it is timely with all of the race issues going on in our world, without being preachy. It feels like it could have been written yesterday and is so real. An additional bonus is that the audio book uses three different actors, one for each of the main characters, which is seldom done but very effective.
Date published: 2017-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must-read This is a must-read! It's hard to put down, yet hard to read at times. The emotions and the depth of the characters in this book are amazing. I can say I loved Small Great Things, but can't really explain why. It was simply everything I expected from this author. I can't wait to see the story come to life on screen. I got my fingers crossed that they do justice to the book.
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read I love how Jodi Picoult always explores social/moral issues. She didn't fail with this novel and I got absorbed in it right from the beginning.
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Such an amazing book! All of Jodi Picoult's books are amazingly written, but this book has become my favourite. It's timing is perfect given the current and recent political climate. You won't be able to put it down, highly recommended!
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good If you like JP books then you will want to add this one to your list.
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Small Great Things A little slow to start, but overall a good read. Would recommend it
Date published: 2017-06-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Small Great Things A fun time, I've enjoyed some of her other novels more, but this was still an enjoyable weekend read. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-06-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from She Has Better Books Jodi Picoult is an amazing author, however, this novel is not one of her best. The issue is important and I am happy that she is exploring this topic but I would recommend her other novels over this one.
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read This was a really interesting novel, it captures your interest and keeps you till the end.
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good read This was a good story and I found it interesting but it felt a bit dragged out.
Date published: 2017-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read. I usually find her books difficult to read because they are so dark. I really enjoyed this and have recommended it to more than a few friends. Very insightful.
Date published: 2017-04-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved This Book! Great book with unexpected twists to it and really interesting (that evolved throughout the novel).
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Uninteresting book This book didn't hold interest.
Date published: 2017-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This book was soooo amazing! Everyone needs to read it
Date published: 2017-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Read so Far Currently reading this one now. Love the story line.
Date published: 2017-04-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! I love Jodi Picoult and this book didn't disappoint!
Date published: 2017-04-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was ok 3.5/5 I've read all of Jodi Picoult's books and am a big fan of hers, I like that she always writes about polarizing issues in society in a manner that is deeply interesting. This one wasn't one of my favourites of hers as a story I felt mostly bored by it, I missed the mystery and intrigue that has been in her other novels, this one felt very cut and dry with no suspense which she writes so well. I still enjoyed the book and love Jodi's writing this one was just not the top of my list of books I enjoy by her.
Date published: 2017-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Excellent story and theme especially for today's troubled world
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic book One of her best books and all her books are great reads.
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book! I loved this and this author
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great read one of my fave authors... my sisters and my mom all loved this book.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW!! This book will knock your sock off with it's message and eye opening insights. A definate must read!!
Date published: 2017-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Important and relevant themes In her newest novel, Jodi Picoult once again proves why she is my favourite author. Beyond amazing. I couldn't put it down
Date published: 2017-03-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Definite eye-opener Amazing novel with an incredible message behind it. Definitely a book that everyone should read. Gives you a lot to think about.
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She Never Ceases To Amaze Me I ordered this book as soon as I could - I have always loved Jodi Picoult's material and how thought-provoking and controversial her books are. Definitely was not disappointed with this one - can't wait for the next!
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing read great writing and couldn't stop reading toward the end!
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read I finished reading this book last week. The story was great and very interesting. Loved seeing the characters all come together from different worlds but with realistic troubles/struggles. It took me about half the length of the book to be hooked and then I couldn't put it down. I am glad I stuck it out!
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read! I've read many of Jodi Picoult's books and have loved every one of them! This book is no different, I love the unique story line. Great Read!
Date published: 2017-03-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors. Love all her books and this one did not disappoint. I definitely recommend
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great author and novel. One of my favourite authors. I really enjoyed reading this novel.
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing!! Great book! I recommend it
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing This book is great! I recommend it
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Don't miss this one! Picoult tackles the difficult topic of race and prejudice head-on. In spite of her sensitivity, some readers may be left feeling uncomfortable while others will appreciate the opportunity to virtually walk in the shoes of others who travel a different path.
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED THIS BOOK I loved this book and the way it was written. The story line really opens you mind and gets you thinking. I was hooked and needed to find out how it would end.
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another hit by Picoult You can't beat Jodi Picoult for writing about social issues in a captivating way. Racism addressed in a deft manner. Recommend.
Date published: 2017-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of her best I was super disappointed with Picoult's last novel, but the premise of this book seemed amazing. It did not disappoint. A lot of parts of hard to read, and it reels you in and makes you feel guilty for your white privilege. An amazing feat for a white author who obviously, has never experienced this racism, but has been able to tell other peoples stories so well without coming off arrogant. Excellent read.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW! I couldn't put this book down, what an amazing read.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book This is by far one of the best books Jodi has ever written.
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal One of the best she has ever written
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of her best!!! This book is so pertinent and relevant. I would strongly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I Loved this book! I have to say that I was a little apprehensive to read this book because of the fact that a few of my friends did not enjoy it. I really enjoyed this book. I thought that it touched on issues that still exist today but are not public. I thought the characters were well developed and I loved that the chapters were written from the points of view of the different characters.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful and Thought Provoking This was a well-written novel inspired by events in Michigan and the true to life aspect is eerie. Reading this book made me question how I see the world and made me aware of the privileges I didn't even know I had. I would recommend this book to everyone as I feel it would help bring understanding in the current political climate.
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read Received as a gift and could not put the book down; great story with an interesting twist. Well worth the read; my first Picoult read and I will search out her books.
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Another fantastic book by Picoult. Everyone should read this book and take a look into their own souls.
Date published: 2017-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from must read! What a beautifully written book!
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of Jodi's best, my favourite of the year Special thanks to goodreads, I received this book free in exchange for an honest view. I have always been a big fan of jodi Picoult's books since the moment I first read one of her books 15 years ago. Her books are original, so emotional, honest, and packed with a punch. She isn't afraid to tackle the big stuff, issues that can be controversial and debated over and this one is a biggie. Ruth Jefferson has been a nurse for over 20 years and has worked hard her whole life to get what she has and be where she is. Raised by a mother who was a domestic, Ruth worked hard at school and put herself through college and went to Yale for nursing. She's an excellent nurse, so good at what she does until one day being a great nurse isn't good enough and it all comes crashing down. Why? Because of the colour of her skin. When she's told by her superior that a white supremacy couple don't want her to touch their baby because she is black, Ruth is angry and sad but complies with the order. Until the moment when she is alone with the baby, Davis, who seizes and stops breathing. What should she do? Should she disobey her orders but do what her instinct tells her and lose her job or should she do nothing, as instructed and wait for help? The parents witnessed some of the heart wrenching attempts to save their child while Ruth who was instructed by her superiors to now touch the baby was trying to restart the heart. They are convinced that Ruth killed their baby and Ruth finds her life turned upside down. I have never been so affected by one of Jodi Picoult's books. They are all definitely thinkers but no one will read this book and be untouched. I am a quick reader generally but this one hit me hard, sometimes I found it difficult to keep reading and had to stop to absorb it all but by about less than halfway through I just had to devour it. Her characters are all very real. While we can't help but feel disgust towards the white supremacy parents, we have to realize they, especially Brittany, were raised that way and that's all they know. I do find it so confusing how they think though. They are people you see every day that may live next door; they have families and jobs and seem like everyone else but are so consumed with hatred for someone that isn't white. It seemed such a contradiction to read of Turk's overwhelming love for his son and belief in God and to equate that with someone who was white suprematist. I felt more sorry for Brittany, who was strongly raised with that belief and never really had a chance to choose on her own. We can hate her, but that's all she knew, and does that make us any different than her then? That slamming surprise towards the end was a shock but I did suspect it a little as the story went on. Ruth and her sister were portrayed very honestly. Ruth who the "lighter" sister who didn't feel as much prejudice as her sister Rachel, who was darker and became much more bitter with what life gave her. Ruth was determined to make more of herself and her son Edison while Rachel just dealt with what the injustices life gave her. Edison lived being the only or one of the only African American children in his neighbourhood and school. In his earlier years he didn't realize there was a difference between himself and his friends I felt so much sympathy for him as he struggled with what was happening to his mother. I admired Kennedy for tackling such a tough case, by choice, that would not make her very popular. Kennedy was white and thought she knew the best way to fight the case but didn't really get it and wasn't really listening to what Ruth was saying but she ended up getting an education she hadn't expected. Christina and Ruth were raised together, were close friends as children but there was a distinct line between two both then and now. Christina was a good person but also lived what she learned. She could be friends with Ruth, but there were still limitations to that friendship. This book is written from three viewpoints, Ruth, Turk and Kennedy so we get narration from opposite ends of the spectrum and one in between. This is a very bold move to write this book. I know this author will receive some negativity for the content and language, it is surely disturbing but I admire her so for putting such a situation and issue out there for all to see. It's blunt and sadly factually accurate; the injustices shocked me. So often I stopped and really thought about what I was reading and what I was feeling about what I was reading. When I was in high school, there may have been five Students of colour in the whole school. Did I ever really think about what it was like for them? And sure, I have friends whose colour puts them in a minority category but did I ever really get it? This book really made me think, and question myself and my beliefs. I think of myself as a good person and a believer in God and not a racist but this book really opened my eyes to what they face every single day. It made me think about what I think and feel, and question myself. This is not a book you will forget about after you close those pages. Thanks you Jodi Picoult for writing such a wonderful explosive book; your storytelling is mesmerizing like no other. This is definitely my number one book this year. Thank you again to goodreads, the publisher Random House and Jodi Picoult for allowing me the privilege to read and review this book.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Small Great Things was fantastic If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult's other books, you will definitely enjoy this one. The detailed storytelling is fantastic in this novel, without dragging the storyline out. A true page-turner, absolutely relevant to human society - especially now.
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from her best one of her best! must read
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a must read! This is a book that is extremely necessary for all generations to read, especially now. It is very moving, heartfelt and inspiring. I'm finding it very difficult to write my exact thoughts as they don't give Picoult much justice. Honestly, you just need to read the book. It makes you think, and reconsider every thought and action.
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read! I read this book 4 days. That's how good it was. I love that the other chose 3 different perspectives to write this book. More people should read this novel, especially in the times we are in now.
Date published: 2017-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great author Great Author and book. I really enjoyed it
Date published: 2017-01-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from my sisters are reading this waiting my turn... love all her novels thus far.
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from everyone should read this This is not only the kind of book readers have come to expect from Jody Picoult, a well crafted story that draws you in, it's the kind of book that can actually change the way we think. It's not often that a book causes me to rethink my worldview but this one forced me to look at the incipient racism in our society and the part I play in it. However, it doesn't come across as preachy or moralizing, the characters are authentic and the story makes the point for them. Everyone should read this book!
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This should be on all your 'must read' lists! Thought provoking, well written, gripping, emotional - I have not read a book this well written in a very long time. Clearly the author has done her research. I cannot wait to read another one of her books. Fantastic!
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down. This is one of the best books that I've read in awhile. I just couldn't put it down. I would say it is a must read!!
Date published: 2017-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Done it Again! PIccoult has done it again! A literary genius making you question some of your own views and beliefs. She has a way of developing such multi-dimensional characters that you can't help but relate to them. I have already lent out my copy, and have other friends itching to read it, too!
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book I received this book as a gift. I read it in 2 days..I found this book interesting and couldn't wait to get to the end to see how it all turned out.
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read Very excited to see this under the tree with my name on it. Reflects on themes and conversations that are happening around us and stories that pop up on the news each day.
Date published: 2017-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best read book in 2016 This is my favorite book in 2016. #TwoThumbsUp
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book! I would highly recommend this book. I couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome Great book great author. I will ready anything by this author
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This book is absolutely amazing, I am reading it right now and can't put it down! The different characters and their lives are so intriguing and you can find ways to relate to them! I can't wait to find out how it ends
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it and loved it! So well written with a great lesson. Love the book. Great gift for anyone (especially nurses/nursing students!)
Date published: 2016-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Gave as a gift This item seemed to be on quite a few peoples lists this holiday season.
Date published: 2016-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth reading As with all her books this one you don't want to put down. Excellent.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great read absolutely a "can't put down" book!!
Date published: 2016-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Her best book yet! A different perspective on racism. I will not soon forget the powerful message.
Date published: 2016-12-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Usually not a fan, but was taken in! I am usually not a fan of the very predictable Picoult plot line. However, I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book and found it thought provoking. I have recommended it several times over and never hesitate to do so given the opportunity.
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Amazing read Like always, Jodi out does herself again!
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read of the year Jodi Picoult did her research yet again (medically, legally, racially) and gives us a story that will stick with you and that really makes you think about things that might make you uncomfortable. This is an important story about the underlying racial tones in everyday events, and how this can lead to horrible consequences such as those of Ruth's trial. I don't want to give anything away, but it's a powerful book worth reading for anyone.
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another favourite read this year Picoult never disappoints me. Her ability to tell a story is truly a gift. She thoughtful, researched, and makes an impact on readers. Well done!
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from never a disapointment great read, author always knows how to tell a story
Date published: 2016-12-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A serious read In my opinion not picoult's best but still definitely worth reading
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought-provoking This book took me a long time to read, but not because it wasn't great. First, I had a lot of other stuff to keep me busy. Secondly, this book is just so FULL of story. That's a weird description, I know, but still accurate. There is just so much in this book to make you stop and think and take a good look at yourself. For me, anyway. It also started a good conversation with my husband about the difference between race in Canada and race in the United States. I was having trouble really relating to a lot of the thought processes and judgments that were being made both by "people of colour" and "white people". My husband explained that it's because I'm from Canada, where things just aren't the same. I had been trying to compare my own city, Chatham, with the south (where this took place) and coming up confused. It seems to me that, rather than huge race separation, I grew up with a sense of...almost pride...for coming from a place that was so deep in the Underground Railroad. We have Uncle Tom's Cabin a half hour away, Buxton is half the distance the other way...we celebrate Black History month and have a Black History museum just a few blocks away from me. So while I couldn't really relate to the characters, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story. Even more so because, being a nurse and having worked as a baby nurse for a year when I first graduated, I really enjoyed all of the labour and delivery nursing parts of the story. I really appreciate how Jodi does not dumb down her books for anyone but expects that if we don't know something we are fully capable of looking it up. She did not feel the need to explain P2, G1 etc. She could have, and it would have been just as good, but reading it this way made it even better for me personally. I can't wait to lend it to my best friend who is also a maternal-newborn nurse, and get her thoughts on it.
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jodi Picoult at her best I am never disappointed when Jodi Picoult tackles a difficult subject. From different perspectives she gives the truth and thoughts of many people. Certainly a tough subject racism, but unfortunately it is still true today and in these difficult times it is important we examine and realize we are all part of the problem therefore we can also become part of the solution. Great read, makes you think
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read I got this a month ago and so glad I did.. a little slow at first but then I couldn't put it down
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating Jodi Picoult deals with the sensitive issues of systemic and obvious racism from three characters perspectives and does it well. Good pace and interesting dilemmas.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hard to put down This is one book I found hard to put down, which was surprising as I didn't finish the last Picoult book that came out. It's also a book that made me think and brought me close to tears. Definitely worth picking up.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from small things are great stories are great, another chicken soup book for leisure time. Liked it!
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed it First time reading this author. Will definitely try more by her.
Date published: 2016-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book! I am reading this book right now, and it is a really good read! I don't want it to end!
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Writes No Wrongs WOW... another amazing book by Jodi Piccoult. I have read every single one of her books and can honestly say that I always walk away feeling like I have learned something new. Her books tackle topics that some authors may shy away from and yet she handles them with such ease that her readers are left with hearts and minds full of new found love for her characters and different social situations. In Small Great Things, Jodi Piccoult tackles the topic of race and discrimination and it's such a relevant thing to talk about given the stories that dominate the news every single day. The story is written so that the readers can see both sides of the story and yet find themselves dealing with the morale issue of what's right. Perhaps you see yourself more in one camp than the other but by the end of the story, you can see the light of both sides.. you understand that the world, for lack of better terms, isn't just black and white.. that there are so many shades of grey in between. As always, Jodi's novels leave me craving her next story... I highly recommend Small Great Things to anyone but don't stop there, read all of her stories and you will be better for it!
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As Always, Picoult Writes a Masterpiece I purchased this book the day it came out, being well aware of the quality of Picoult's writing. This novel did not disappoint. Jodi focuses on the very present issues of racism and white privilege. As you turn the pages, you feel as if you are behind a glass wall watching the story unfold. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top Notch WOW... another amazing book by Jodi Piccoult. I have read every single one of her books and can honestly say that I always walk away feeling like I have learned something new. Her books tackle topics that some authors may shy away from and yet she handles them with such ease that her readers are left with hearts and minds full of new found love for her characters and different social situations. In Small Great Things, Jodi Piccoult tackles the topic of race and discrimination and it's such a relevant thing to talk about given the stories that dominate the news every single day. The story is written so that the readers can see both sides of the story and yet find themselves dealing with the morale issue of what's right. Perhaps you see yourself more in one camp than the other but by the end of the story, you can see the light of both sides.. you understand that the world, for lack of better terms, isn't just black and white.. that there are so many shades of grey in between. As always, Jodi's novels leave me craving her next story... I highly recommend Small Great Things to anyone but don't stop there, read all of her stories and you will be better for it!
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Delicious! Another run away hit from Jodi Picoult! Could not put this book down. Relevant and poignant! an absolute must read
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Super I loved this book, although I had a very difficult time reading some of the vivid details that were depicted. It makes you think about life and people in a different perspective and certainly brings to light all of the racism going on.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! Good book, deals with many of our issues today.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read! If this book makes you uncomfortable while reading, you know Jodi Picoult is doing her job well. This book deals with current day racism in America and white-privilege, despite whether one believes that they are privileged or not due to the colour skin that they were born with. In a world that has so much hate and darkness, this book takes a step towards the light.
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Profoundly Moving This is a very hard book. It deals with racism in American during the present day, and many say that Jodi’s writing it always so timely, especially with Small Great Things. I can partially agree, however at the same time, racism has been going on for far too long in not only America but I believe all over the world. We may be born with certain prejudices, or even privileges that we may not realize, and this is explicitly what Small Great Things offers. There are no easy answers; in fact, it’s the truth. The story follows Ruth Jefferson, an African American Labour and Delivery Nurse who works in a small Connecticut hospital and is simply just doing her job. That is, until, she is encountered with Turk and Brit who just had their first newborn son. Turk and Brit are White Supremacists. It’s not that they don’t find Ruth doing her job incorrectly, but it’s rather because of her skin colour that they order her supervisor not to have Ruth in the care of their child again. Of course, Ruth’s supervisor is clear to mention that is discriminatory, but due to their beliefs, they do not want Ruth caring for their child. A note is placed in the child’s folder, and then the child goes into a medical distress that unfortunately leads to death. I knew about this event for a long time, and it was no surprise that the person that will be blamed is going to be Ruth since she was the only Nurse able to witness the tragedy. Two things could have happened when the baby was struggling: 1. Ruth could have disobeyed her orders and intervened to try and save the baby. In doing so, she could risk losing her job because she was told not to care for the child, yet still be the good Nurse and human being she is by saving the baby. If she touched the baby, she might also get in trouble with his parents because of their beliefs. 2. Ruth could have done nothing, let the baby suffer, and still be held accountable because she didn't do anything. And why? Because she was told not to due to the colour of her skin, and so she obeyed her orders. Regardless, both of these situations are analyzed through a murder and negligent homicide case, but despite the alternatives I analyzed, would it matter? I don’t think it would because it still spirals down to the reason of this story: no matter what, Ruth would have been blamed because of her skin colour. Some may say she was at the wrong time and the wrong place, yet that wouldn’t matter. This is an excruciating story about what racism is, and although it is told from a very talented white privileged woman, who very openly says that all the time, she wrote this because she knew she had to. The purpose was to start a conversation on race because it is not only hard to discuss but keeps being pushed away, simply because it makes people uncomfortable. And it’s time this all comes to an end because this is something very much overdue. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! Loved this book so much. Couldn't put it down. Picoult tackles a touchy taboo topic . Only critic is the ending could have been better #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quick Read Finished over a weekend. Great read.
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Relevant for what is going on in the world right now I think Jodi has gotten her groove back! After not being super impressed with her last few books, this one feels a lot like the Jodi Picoult I grew up reading. This was a very uncomfortable book to read, the things that people still do and say to each other makes my heart hurt. This isn't a perfect book, but I think it is an important book. Plot wise, my biggest gripe was the last 40 or so pages and I docked half a star for that. The writing was solid, and I felt that this was a well researched and well intentioned book. I can definitely see why there has been some backlash towards this one though.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for me. ***WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS**** I'm going to start with the good. This is exactly what I expected out of a Picoult book: I found it difficult to put down. I even teared up. Small Great Things addresses an incredibly important, timely topic. The message is crucially important: that you don't have to be a skinhead to be racist, and that white people need to realize how much we benefit from and engage in racism even when we don't mean to. I hope it starts discussions and gets people thinking and acts as a sort of first step for some readers. But -- BUT -- there was a lot that also didn't sit right with me. The first is the examination of race. I'm white, and there are plenty of people of colour who have addressed this in reviews better than I could. So, I'm just going to say this: I firmly believe that if you want to learn about prejudice and oppression, you should go to the people who have experienced it. i.e., read books by Black authors. One thing I am more qualified to talk about, though, is the experience of reading this book and getting into the characters' heads. And that's issue number two for me: Turk's point-of-view chapters. To be honest, I spent the better part of the book trying to figure out why the narration sometimes puts us squarely in Turk's head. He's nothing short of vile; the last thing I want is a peek inside of his mind. Are his chapters supposed to humanize him? Are we supposed to feel even one smidgen of sympathy? He's a white supremacist who gay-bashed his own father. Forgive me for refusing to applaud the rare times he displays basic human decency. Forgive me for having no interest in his redemption arc. Which leads into my third point. Race is obviously the big issue in this book, but that's not the only prejudice that Turk displays. Homophobia comes up in a big way -- from the casual use of a nasty slur to the repeated gay-bashings. And you know what? While his racist opinions seem to change in a big way, Turk never seems to show remorse for his homophobia. He never changes his opinion... or, if he does, we sure don't get to see it, which is something given that time devoted in the book to his anti-gay beliefs. No, instead all you have is name-calling and displays of violence, and it just feels so gratuitous. In the context of this book, gay people seem to only exist to have terrible things done to them, for no discernible plot reason and with no resolution. So, no, I didn't like this book. It was well-written. It dealt with important issues. But I don't appreciate being expected to sympathize with a skinhead. If some a couple decides that gay bashing is a fun and rewarding activity for a first date, there better be a good reason. And I'd rather not spend my time wishing I was reading a similar story as told by someone else.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing As soon as I opened this book I couldn't put it down. It is so well written, and takes you through such an emotional journey. One of her best works for sure, I would highly recommend.
Date published: 2016-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't Wait! I absolutely LOVE anything written by Jodi Picoult. Her stories are so intriguing and she writes about topics that can happen in the real world. This book has a serious topic and I couldn't be more excited to read it. If you have never read a Jodi Picoult book, no time like the present to begin!
Date published: 2016-08-09

Read from the Book

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2016 Jodi PicoultStage One: Early LaborJustice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.—Benjamin Franklin   RuthThe miracle happened on West Seventy-fourth Street, in the home where Mama worked. It was a big brownstone encircled by a wrought-iron fence, and overlooking either side of the ornate door were gargoyles, their granite faces carved from my nightmares. They terrified me, so I didn’t mind the fact that we always entered through the less impressive side door, whose keys Mama kept on a ribbon in her purse.Mama had been working for Sam Hallowell and his family since before my sister and I were born. You may not have recognized his name, but you would have known him the minute he said hello. He had been the unmistakable voice in the mid-960s who announced before every show: The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC! In 1976, when the miracle happened, he was the network’s head of programming. The doorbell beneath those gargoyles was the famously pitched three-note chime everyone associates with NBC. Sometimes, when I came to work with my mother, I’d sneak outside and push the button and hum along.The reason we were with Mama that day was because it was a snow day. School was canceled, but we were too little to stay alone in our apartment while Mama went to work—which she did, through snow and sleet and probably also earthquakes and Armageddon. She muttered, stuffing us into our snowsuits and boots, that it didn’t matter if she had to cross a blizzard to do it, but God forbid Ms. Mina had to spread the peanut butter on her own sandwich bread. In fact the only time I remember Mama taking time off work was twenty-five years later, when she had a double hip replacement, generously paid for by the Hallowells. She stayed home for a week, and even after that, when it didn’t quite heal right and she insisted on returning to work, Mina found her tasks to do that kept her off her feet. But when I was little, during school vacations and bouts of fever and snow days like this one, Mama would take us with her on the B train downtown.Mr. Hallowell was away in California that week, which happened often, and which meant that Ms. Mina and Christina needed Mama even more. So did Rachel and I, but we were better at taking care of ourselves, I suppose, than Ms. Mina was.When we finally emerged at Seventy-second Street, the world was white. It was not just that Central Park was caught in a snow globe. The faces of the men and women shuddering through the storm to get to work looked nothing like mine, or like my cousins’ or neighbors’.I had not been into any Manhattan homes except for the Hallowells’, so I didn’t know how extraordinary it was for one family to live, alone, in this huge building. But I remember thinking it made no sense that Rachel and I had to put our snowsuits and boots into the tiny, cramped closet in the kitchen, when there were plenty of empty hooks and open spaces in the main entry, where Christina’s and Ms. Mina’s coats were hanging. Mama tucked away her coat, too, and her lucky scarf—the soft one that smelled like her, and that Rachel and I fought to wear around our house because it felt like petting a guinea pig or a bunny under your fingers. I waited for Mama to move through the dark rooms like Tinker Bell, alighting on a switch or a handle or a knob so that the sleeping beast of a house was gradually brought to life. “You two be quiet,” Mama told us, “and I’ll make you some of Ms. Mina’s hot chocolate.”It was imported from Paris, and it tasted like heaven. So as Mama tied on her white apron, I took a piece of paper from a kitchen drawer and a packet of crayons I’d brought from home and silently started to sketch. I made a house as big as this one. I put a family inside: me, Mama, Rachel. I tried to draw snow, but I couldn’t. The flakes I’d made with the white crayon were invisible on the paper. The only way to see them was to tilt the paper sideways toward the chandelier light, so I could make out the shimmer where the crayon had been.“Can we play with Christina?” Rachel asked. Christina was six, falling neatly between the ages of Rachel and me. Christina had the biggest bedroom I had ever seen and more toys than anyone I knew. When she was home and we came to work with our mother, we played school with her and her teddy bears, drank water out of real miniature china teacups, and braided the corn-silk hair of her dolls. Unless she had a friend over, in which case we stayed in the kitchen and colored.But before Mama could answer, there was a scream so piercing and so ragged that it stabbed me in the chest. I knew it did the same to Mama, because she nearly dropped the pot of water she was carrying to the sink. “Stay here,” she said, her voice already trailing behind her as she ran upstairs.Rachel was the first one out of her chair; she wasn’t one to follow instructions. I was drawn in her wake, a balloon tied to her wrist. My hand skimmed over the banister of the curved staircase, not touching.Ms. Mina’s bedroom door was wide open, and she was twisting on the bed in a sinkhole of satin sheets. The round of her belly rose like a moon; the shining whites of her eyes made me think of merry-go-round horses, frozen in flight. “It’s too early, Lou,” she gasped.“Tell that to this baby,” Mama replied. She was holding the telephone receiver. Ms. Mina held her other hand in a death grip. “You stop pushing, now,” she said. “The ambulance’ll be here any minute.” I wondered how fast an ambulance could get here in all that snow.“Mommy?”It wasn’t until I heard Christina’s voice that I realized the noise had woken her up. She stood between Rachel and me. “You three, go to Miss Christina’s room,” Mama ordered, with steel in her voice. “Now.” But we remained rooted to the spot as Mama quickly forgot about us, lost in a world made of Ms. Mina’s pain and fear, trying to be the map that she could follow out of it. I watched the cords stand out on Ms. Mina’s neck as she groaned; I saw Mama kneel on the bed between her legs and push her gown over her knees. I watched the pink lips between Ms. Mina’s legs purse and swell and part. There was the round knob of a head, a knot of shoulder, a gush of blood and fluid, and suddenly, a baby was cradled in Mama’s palms.“Look at you,” she said, with love written over her face. “Weren’t you in a hurry to get into this world?”Two things happened at once: the doorbell rang, and Christina started to cry. “Oh, honey,” Ms. Mina crooned, not scary anymore but still sweaty and red-faced. She held out her hand, but Christina was too terrified by what she had seen, and instead she burrowed closer to me. Rachel, ever practical, went to answer the front door. She returned with two paramedics, who swooped in and took over, so that what Mama had done for Ms. Mina became like everything else she did for the Hallowells: seamless and invisible.The Hallowells named the baby Louis, after Mama. He was fine, even though he was almost a full month early, a casualty of the barometric pressure dropping with the storm, which caused a PROM—a premature rupture of membranes. Of course, I didn’t know that back then. I only knew that on a snowy day in Manhattan I had seen the very start of someone. I’d been with that baby before anyone or anything in this world had a chance to disappoint him.The experience of watching Louis being born affected us all differently. Christina had her baby via surrogate. Rachel had five. Me, I became a labor and delivery nurse.When I tell people this story, they assume the miracle I am referring to during that long-ago blizzard was the birth of a baby. True, that was astonishing. But that day I witnessed a greater wonder. As Christina held my hand and Ms. Mina held Mama’s, there was a moment— one heartbeat, one breath—where all the differences in schooling and money and skin color evaporated like mirages in a desert. Where everyone was equal, and it was just one woman, helping another.That miracle, I’ve spent thirty-nine years waiting to see again.    Stage One: Active LaborNot everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.—James Baldwin    RuthThe most beautiful baby I ever saw was born without a face.From the neck down, he was perfect: ten fingers, ten toes, chubby belly. But where his ear should have been, there was a twist of lips and a single tooth. Instead of a face there was a swirling eddy of skin with no features.His mother—my patient—was a thirty-year-old gravida 1 para 1 who had received prenatal care including an ultrasound, but the baby had been positioned in a way that the facial deformity hadn’t been visible. The spine, the heart, the organs had all looked fine, so no one was expecting this. Maybe for that very reason, she chose to deliver at Mercy–West Haven, our little cottage hospital, and not Yale–New Haven, which is better equipped for emergencies. She came in full term, and labored for sixteen hours before she delivered. The doctor lifted the baby, and there was nothing but silence. Buzzy, white silence. “Is he all right?” the mother asked, panicking. “Why isn’t he crying?”I had a student nurse shadowing me, and she screamed.“Get out,” I said tightly, shoving her from the room. Then I took the newborn from the obstetrician and placed him on the warmer, wiping the vernix from his limbs. The OB did a quick exam, silently met my gaze, and turned back to the parents, who by now knew something was terribly wrong. In soft words, the doctor said their child had profound birth defects that were incompatible with life.On a birth pavilion, Death is a more common patient than you’d think. When we have anencephalies or fetal deaths, we know that the parents still have to bond with and mourn for that baby. This infant— alive, for however long that might be—was still this couple’s son.So I cleaned him and swaddled him, the way I would any other newborn, while the conversation behind me between the parents and the doctor stopped and started like a car choking through the winter. Why? How? What if you . . .? How long until . . .? Questions no one ever wants to ask, and no one ever wants to answer.The mother was still crying when I settled the baby in the crook of her elbow. His tiny hands windmilled. She smiled down at him, her heart in her eyes. “Ian,” she whispered. “Ian Michael Barnes.”She wore an expression I’ve only seen in paintings in museums, of a love and a grief so fierce that they forged together to create some new, raw emotion.I turned to the father. “Would you like to hold your son?”He looked like he was about to be sick. “I can’t,” he muttered and bolted from the room.I followed him, but was intercepted by the nurse in training, who was apologetic and upset. “I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s just . . . it was a monster.”“It is a baby,” I corrected, and I pushed past her.I cornered the father in the parents’ lounge. “Your wife and your son need you.”“That’s not my son,” he said. “That . . . thing . . .”“Is not going to be on this earth for very long. Which means you’d better give him all the love you had stored up for his lifetime right now.” I waited until he looked me in the eye, and then I turned on my heel. I did not have to glance back to know he was following me.When we entered the hospital room, his wife was still nuzzling the infant, her lips pressed to the smooth canvas of his brow. I took the tiny bundle from her arms, and handed the baby to her husband. He sucked in his breath and then drew back the blanket from the spot where the baby’s face should have been.I’ve thought about my actions, you know. If I did the right thing by forcing the father to confront his dying baby, if it was my place as a nurse. Had my supervisor asked me at the time, I would have said that I’d been trained to provide closure for grieving parents. If this man didn’t acknowledge that something truly horrible had happened—or worse, if he kept pretending for the rest of his life that it never had—a hole would open up inside him. Tiny at first, that pit would wear away, bigger and bigger, until one day when he wasn’t expecting it he would realize he was completely hollow.When the father started to cry, the sobs shook his body, like a hurricane bends a tree. He sank down beside his wife on the hospital bed, and she put one hand on her husband’s back and one on the crown of the baby’s head.They took turns holding their son for ten hours. That mother, she even tried to let him nurse. I could not stop staring—not because it was ugly or wrong, but because it was the most remarkable thing I’d ever seen. It felt like looking into the face of the sun: once I turned away, I was blind to everything else.At one point, I took that stupid nursing student into the room with me, ostensibly to check the mother’s vitals, but really to make her see with her own eyes how love has nothing to do with what you’re looking at, and everything to do with who’s looking.When the infant died, it was peaceful. We made casts of the newborn’s hand and foot for the parents to keep. I heard that this same couple came back two years later and delivered a healthy daughter, though I wasn’t on duty when it happened.It just goes to show you: every baby is born beautiful. It’s what we project on them that makes them ugly.Right after I gave birth to Edison, seventeen years ago at this very hospital, I wasn’t worried about the health of my baby, or how I was going to juggle being a single parent while my husband was overseas, or how my life was going to change now that I was a mother.I was worried about my hair.The last thing you’re thinking about when you’re in labor is what you look like, but if you’re like me, it’s the first thing that crosses your mind once that baby’s come. The sweat that mats the hair of all my white patients to their foreheads instead made my roots curl up and pull away from the scalp. Brushing my hair around my head in a swirl like an ice cream cone and wrapping it in a scarf each night was what kept it straight the next day when I took it down. But what white nurse knew that, or understood that the little complimentary bottle of sham- poo provided by the hospital auxiliary league was only going to make my hair even frizzier? I was sure that when my well-meaning colleagues came in to meet Edison, they would be shocked into stupor at the sight of the mess going on atop my head.In the end, I wound up wrapping it in a towel, and told visitors I’d just had a shower.I know nurses who work on surgical floors who tell me about men wheeled out of surgery who insist on taping their toupees into place in the recovery room before their spouses join them. And I can’t tell you the number of times a patient who has spent the night grunting and screaming and pushing out a baby with her husband at her side will kick her spouse out of the room post delivery so I can help her put on a pretty nightgown and robe.I understand the need people have to put a certain face on for the rest of the world. Which is why—when I first arrive for my shift at 6:40 a.m.—I don’t even go into the staff room, where we will shortly receive the night’s update from the charge nurse. Instead I slip down the hall to the patient I’d been with yesterday, before my shift ended. Her name was Jessie; she was a tiny little thing who had come into the pavilion looking more like a campaigning First Lady than a woman in active labor: her hair was perfectly coiffed, her face airbrushed with makeup, even her maternity clothes were fitted and stylish. That’s a dead giveaway, since by forty weeks of pregnancy most mothers-to-be would be happy to wear a pup tent. I scanned her chart—G1, now P1—and grinned. The last thing I’d said to Jessie before I turned her care over to a colleague and went home for the night was that the next time I saw her, she’d have a baby, and sure enough, I have a new patient. While I’ve been sleeping, Jessie’s delivered a healthy seven- pound, six-ounce girl.I open the door to find Jessie dozing. The baby lies swaddled in the bassinet beside the bed; Jessie’s husband is sprawled in a chair, snoring. Jessie stirs when I walk in, and I immediately put a finger to my lips. Quiet.From my purse, I pull a compact mirror and a red lipstick.Part of labor is conversation; it’s the distraction that makes the pain ebb and it’s the glue that bonds a nurse to her patient. What other situation can you think of where one medical professional spends up to twelve hours consulting with a single person? As a result, the connection we build with these women is fierce and fast. I know things about them, in a mere matter of hours, that their own closest friends don’t always know: how she met her partner at a bar when she’d had too much to drink; how her father didn’t live long enough to see this grandchild; how she worries about being a mom because she hated babysitting as a teenager. Last night, in the dragon hours of Jessie’s labor, when she was teary and exhausted and snapping at her husband, I’d suggested that he go to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee. As soon as he left, the air in the room was easier to breathe, and she fell back against those awful plastic pillows we have in the birthing pavilion. “What if this baby changes everything?” she sobbed. She confessed that she never went anywhere without her “game face” on, that her husband had never even seen her without mascara; and now here he was watching her body contort itself inside out, and how would he ever look at her the same way again?Listen, I had told her. You let me worry about that.I’d like to think my taking that one straw off her back was what gave her the strength to make it to transition.It’s funny. When I tell people I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse for more than twenty years, they’re impressed by the fact that I have assisted in cesareans, that I can start an IV in my sleep, that I can tell the difference between a decel in the fetal heart rate that is normal and one that requires intervention. But for me, being an L & D nurse is all about knowing your patient, and what she needs. A back rub. An epidural. A little Maybelline.Jessie glances at her husband, still dead to the world. Then she takes the lipstick from my hand. “Thank you,” she whispers, and our eyes connect. I hold the mirror as she once again reinvents herself.On Thursdays, my shift goes from 7:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. At Mercy– West Haven, during the day, we usually have two nurses on the birthing pavilion—three if we’re swimming in human resources that day. As I walk through the pavilion, I note idly how many of our delivery suites are occupied—it’s three, right now, a nice slow start to the day. Marie, the charge nurse, is already in the room where we have our morning meeting when I come inside, but Corinne—the second nurse on shift with me—is missing. “What’s it going to be today?” Marie asks, as she flips through the morning paper.“Flat tire,” I reply. This guessing game is a routine: What excuse will Corinne use today for being late? It’s a beautiful fall day in October, so she can’t blame the weather.“That was last week. I’m going with the flu.”“Speaking of which,” I say. “How’s Ella?” Marie’s eight-year-old had caught the stomach bug that’s been going around.“Back in school today, thank God,” Marie replies. “Now Dave’s got it. I figure I have twenty-four hours before I’m down for the count.” She looks up from the Regional section of the paper. “I saw Edison’s name in here again,” she says.My son has made the Highest Honors list for every semester of his high school career. But just like I tell him, that’s no reason to boast. “There are a lot of bright kids in this town,” I demur.“Still,” Marie says. “For a boy like Edison to be so successful . . . well. You should be proud, is all. I can only hope Ella turns out to be that good a student.”A boy like Edison. I know what she is saying, even if she’s careful not to spell it out. There are not many Black kids in the high school, and as far as I know, Edison is the only one on the Highest Honors list. Comments like this feel like paper cuts, but I’ve worked with Marie for over ten years now, so I try to ignore the sting. I know she doesn’t really mean anything by it. She’s a friend, after all—she came to my house with her family for Easter supper last year, along with some of the other nurses, and we’ve gone out for cocktails or movie nights and once a girls’ weekend at a spa. Still, Marie has no idea how often I have to just take a deep breath, and move on. White people don’t mean half the offensive things that come out of their mouths, and so I try not to let myself get rubbed the wrong way.“Maybe you should hope that Ella makes it through the school day without going to the nurse’s office again,” I reply, and Marie laughs.“You’re right. First things first.”Corinne explodes into the room. “Sorry I’m late,” she says, and Marie and I exchange a look. Corinne’s fifteen years younger than I am, and there’s always some emergency—a carburetor that’s dead, a fight with her boyfriend, a crash on 95N. Corinne is one of those people for whom life is just the space between crises. She takes off her coat and manages to knock over a potted plant that died months ago, which no one has bothered to replace. “Dammit,” she mutters, righting the pot and sweeping the soil back inside. She dusts off her palms on her scrubs, and then sits down with her hands folded. “I’m really sorry, Marie. The stupid tire I replaced last week has a leak or something; I had to drive here the whole way going thirty.”Marie reaches into her pocket and pulls out a dollar, which she flicks across the table at me. I laugh.“All right,” Marie says. “Floor report. Room two is a couplet. Jessica Myers, G one P one at forty weeks and two days. She had a vaginal delivery this morning at three a.m., uncomplicated, without pain meds. Baby girl is breast-feeding well; she’s peed but hasn’t pooped yet.”“I’ll take her,” Corinne and I say in unison.Everyone wants the patient who’s already delivered; it’s the easier job. “I had her during active labor,” I point out.“Right,” Marie says. “Ruth, she’s yours.” She pushes her reading glasses up on her nose. “Room three is Thea McVaughn, G one P zero at forty-one weeks and three days, she’s in active labor at four centimeters dilated, membranes intact. Fetal heart rate tracing looks good on the monitor, the baby’s active. She’s requested an epidural and her IV fluid bolus is infusing.”“Has Anesthesia been paged?” Corinne asks. “Yes.”“I’ve got her.”We only take one active labor patient at a time, if we can help it, which means that the third patient—the last one this morning—will be mine. “Room five is a recovery. Brittany Bauer is a G one P one at thirty-nine weeks and one day; had an epidural and a vaginal delivery at five-thirty a.m. Baby’s a boy; they want a circ. Mom was a GDM A one; the baby is on Q three hour blood sugars for twenty-four hours. The mom really wants to breast-feed. They’re still skin to skin.”A recovery is still a lot of work—a one-to-one nurse-patient relationship. True, the labor’s finished, but there is still tidying up to be done, a physical assessment of the newborn, and a stack of paperwork. “Got it,” I say, and I push away from the table to go find Lucille, the night nurse, who was with Brittany during the delivery.She finds me first, in the staff restroom, washing my hands. “Tag, you’re it,” she says, handing me Brittany Bauer’s file. “Twenty-six-year- old G one, now P one, delivered vaginally this morning at five-thirty over an intact perineum. She’s O positive, rubella immune, Hep B and HIV negative, GBS negative. Gestational diabetic, diet controlled, otherwise uncomplicated. She still has an IV in her left forearm. I DC’d the epidural, but she hasn’t been out of bed yet, so ask her if she has to get up and pee. Her bleeding’s been good, her fundus is firm at U.”I open the file and scan the notes, committing the details to memory. “Davis,” I read. “That’s the baby?”“Yeah. His vital signs have been normal, but his one-hour blood sugar was forty, so we’ve got him trying to nurse. He’s done a little bit on each side, but he’s kind of spitty and sleepy and he hasn’t done a whole lot of eating.”“Did he get his eyes and thighs?”“Yeah, and he’s peed, but hasn’t pooped. I haven’t done the bath or the newborn assessment yet.”“No problem,” I say. “Is that it?”“The dad’s name is Turk,” Lucille replies, hesitating. “There’s something just a little . . . off about him.”“Like Creeper Dad?” I ask. Last year, we had a father who was flirting with the nursing student in the room during his wife’s delivery. When she wound up having a C-section, instead of standing behind the drape near his wife’s head, he strolled across the OR and said to the nursing student, Is it hot in here, or is it just you?“Not like that,” Lucille says. “He’s appropriate with the mom. He’s just . . . sketchy. I can’t put my finger on it.”I’ve always thought that if I wasn’t an L & D nurse, I’d make a great fake psychic. We are skilled at reading our patients so that we know what they need moments before they realize it. And we are also gifted when it comes to sensing strange vibes. Just last month my radar went off when a mentally challenged patient came in with an older Ukrainian woman who had befriended her at the grocery store where she worked. There was something weird about the dynamic between them, and I followed my hunch and called the police. Turned out the Ukrainian woman had served time in Kentucky for stealing the baby of a woman with Down syndrome.So as I walk into Brittany Bauer’s room for the first time, I am not worried. I’m thinking: I’ve got this.I knock softly and push open the door. “I’m Ruth,” I say. “I’m going to be your nurse today.” I walk right up to Brittany, and smile down at the baby cradled in her arms. “Isn’t he a sweetie! What’s his name?” I ask, although I already know. It’s a means to start a conversation, to connect with the patient.Brittany doesn’t answer. She looks at her husband, a hulking guy who’s sitting on the edge of his chair. He’s got military-short hair and he’s bouncing the heel of one boot like he can’t quite stay still. I get what Lucille saw in him. Turk Bauer makes me think of a power line that’s snapped during a storm, and lies across the road just waiting for something to brush against it so it can shoot sparks.It doesn’t matter if you’re shy or modest—nobody who’s just had a baby stays quiet for long. They want to share this life-changing moment. They want to relive the labor, the birth, the beauty of their baby. But Brittany, well, it’s almost like she needs his permission to speak. Domestic abuse? I wonder.“Davis,” she chokes out. “His name is Davis.”“Well, hello, Davis,” I murmur, moving closer to the bed. “Would you mind if I take a listen to his heart and lungs and check his temperature?”Her arms clamp tighter on the newborn, pulling him closer.“I can do it right here,” I say. “You don’t have to let go of him.”You have to cut a new parent a little bit of slack, especially one who’s already been told her baby’s blood sugar is too low. So I tuck the thermometer under Davis’s armpit, and get a normal reading. I look at the whorls of his hair—a patch of white can signify hearing loss; an alternating hair pattern can flag metabolic issues. I press my stethoscope against the baby’s back, listening to his lungs. I slide my hand between him and his mother, listening to his heart.Whoosh.It’s so faint that I think it’s a mistake.I listen again, trying to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, but that slight whir is there behind the backbeat of the pulse.Turk stands up so that he is towering over me; he folds his arms. Nerves look different on fathers. They get combative, sometimes.As if they could bluster away whatever’s wrong.“I hear a very slight murmur,” I say delicately. “But it could be nothing. This early, there are still parts of the heart that are developing. Even if it is a murmur, it could disappear in a few days. Still, I’ll make a note of it; I’ll have the pediatrician take a listen.” While I’m talking, trying to be as calm as possible, I do another blood sugar. It’s an Accu-Chek, which means we get instant results—and this time, he’s at fifty-two. “Now, this is great news,” I say, trying to give the Bauers something positive to hold on to. “His sugar is much better.” I walk to the sink and run warm water, fill a plastic bowl, and set it on the warmer. “Davis is definitely perking up, and he’ll probably start eating really soon. Why don’t I get him cleaned up, and fire him up a little bit, and we can try nursing again?”I reach down and scoop the baby up. Turning my back to the parents, I place Davis on the warmer and begin my exam. I can hear Brittany and Turk whispering fiercely as I check the fontanels on the baby’s head for the suture lines, to make sure the bones aren’t overriding each other. The parents are worried, and that’s normal. A lot of patients don’t like to take the nurse’s opinion on any medical issue; they need to hear it from the doctor to believe it—even though L & D nurses are often the ones who first notice a quirk or a symptom. Their pediatrician is Atkins; I will page her after I’m done with the exam, and have her listen to the baby’s heart.But right now, my attention is on Davis. I look for facial bruising, hematoma, or abnormal shaping of the skull. I check the palmar creases in his tiny hands, and the set of his ears relative to his eyes. I measure the circumference of his head and the length of his squirming body. I check for clefts in the mouth and the ears. I palpate the clavicles and put my pinkie in his mouth to check his sucking reflex. I study the rise and fall of the tiny bellows of his chest, to make sure his breathing isn’t labored. Press his belly to make sure it’s soft, check his fingers and toes, scan for rashes or lesions or birthmarks. I make sure his testicles have descended and scan for hypospadias, making sure that the urethra is where it’s supposed to be. Then I gently turn him over and scan the base of the spine for dimples or hair tufts or any other indicator of neural tube defect.I realize that the whispering behind me has stopped. But instead of feeling more comfortable, it feels ominous. What do they think I’m doing wrong?By the time I flip him back over, Davis’s eyes are starting to drift shut. Babies usually get sleepy a couple of hours after delivery, which is one reason to do the bath now—it will wake him up long enough to try to feed again. There is a stack of wipes on the warmer; with practiced, sure strokes I dip one into the warm water and wipe the baby down from head to toe. Then I diaper him, swiftly wrap him up in a blanket like a burrito, and rinse his hair under the sink with some Johnson’s baby shampoo. The last thing I do is put an ID band on him that will match the ones his parents have, and fasten a tiny electronic security bracelet on his ankle, which will set off an alarm if the baby gets too close to any of the exits.I can feel the parents’ eyes, hot on my back. I turn, a smile fastened on my face. “There,” I say, handing the infant to Brittany again. “Clean as a whistle. Now, let’s see if we can get him to nurse.”I reach down to help position the baby, but Brittany flinches. “Get away from her,” Turk Bauer says. “I want to talk to your boss.”They are the first words he has spoken to me in the twenty minutes I’ve been in this room with him and his family, and they carry an undercurrent of discontent. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to tell Marie what a stellar job I’ve done. But I nod tightly and step out of the room, replaying every word and gesture I have made since introducing myself to Brittany Bauer. I walk to the nurses’ desk and find Marie filling out a chart. “We’ve got a problem in Five,” I say, trying to keep my voice even. “The father wants to see you.”“What happened?” Marie asks.“Absolutely nothing,” I reply, and I know it’s true. I’m a good nurse. Sometimes a great one. I took care of that infant the way I would have taken care of any newborn on this pavilion. “I told them I heard what sounded like a murmur, and that I’d contact the pediatrician. And I bathed the baby and did his exam.”I must be doing a pretty awful job of hiding my feelings, though, because Marie looks at me sympathetically. “Maybe they’re worried about the baby’s heart,” she says.I am just a step behind her as we walk inside, so I can clearly see the relief on the faces of the parents when they see Marie. “I understand that you wanted to talk to me, Mr. Bauer?” she says.“That nurse,” Turk says. “I don’t want her touching my son again.”I can feel heat spreading from the collar of my scrubs up into my scalp. No one likes to be called out in front of her supervisor.Marie draws herself upright, her spine stiffening. “I can assure you that Ruth is one of the best nurses we have, Mr. Bauer. If there’s a formal complaint—”“I don’t want her or anyone who looks like her touching my son,” the father interrupts, and he folds his arms across his chest. He’s pushed up his sleeves while I was out of the room. Running from wrist to elbow on one arm is the tattoo of a Confederate flag.Marie stops talking.For a moment, I honestly don’t understand. And then it hits me with the force of a blow: they don’t have a problem with what I’ve done.Just with who I am.

Editorial Reviews

#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER “Picoult carefully shows how close the dangerous beliefs of someone like Turk can come to all of us, and also how the seemingly innocuous prejudices of a person like Kennedy can do just as much damage. . . . I admire her for telling this particular story, even if some might feel parts of it aren’t hers to tell. . . . It’s a story that should be told, no matter the pitfalls, and I hope other well-known authors follow Picoult’s brave path, forcing their captive audiences to face unpleasant facts and perhaps enact change—even if the only change is talking about things we normally keep hidden inside.” —Marissa Stapley, author of Mating for Life, The Globe and Mail“If there’s one word to describe author Jodi Picoult, it’s fierce. The bestselling author . . . has never been one to shy away from hot-button topics.” —Sue Carter, editor of Quill & Quire, Metro“Small Great Things tackles tricky subject matter with grace. . . . I found her novel a gripping read about an issue of urgency. She treats the subject matter with respect and is clearly aware of her own lack of first-person knowledge or experience of racism. . . . Picoult’s stories are always . . . well-written, fast-paced, multi-faceted and current. Small Great Things is no different. It will leave you with lots to think about, more knowledge than you had before and a deeper understanding of America today.” —Vancouver Sun “[G]ripping . . . 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) “It’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.” —Redbook “[Picoult] 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.” —Popsugar “I couldn’t put it down. Her best yet!” —Alice Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author  “A compelling, can’t-put-it-down drama with a trademark [Jodi] Picoult twist.” —Good Housekeeping“Small Great Things is the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written. Frank, uncomfortably introspective and right on the day’s headlines, it will challenge her readers. . . . [I]t’s . . . exciting to have a high-profile writer like Picoult take an earnest risk to expand our cultural conversation about race and prejudice.” —The Washington Post “[Jodi Picoult] is adept at taking on thorny issues—medical ethics, mass shootings, the death penalty—and recasting them on a relatable human scale. Her latest plunge into the current, Small Great Things, arrives at a pointed time when institutional racism—its violence and the entitlement it confers on some—is the subject of near daily commentary. . . . Weaving three first-person accounts . . . Small Great Things is big on ambition. . . . Many of the novel’s most tender observations have little to do with race but with Ruth’s gifts as a nurse, her grace. . . . Given that Picoult is wrestling with the subject of white privilege, writing Ruth’s story in the first person might seem like an exercise of that very prerogative. Can Ruth be the hero of her own story? Or must she be saved by Kennedy? Turns out, this is Picoult’s driving concern, too. That Small Great Things embraces this question with empathy, hope and humility is no small feat.” —Newsday “To say this story is horrifyingly real undersells it—Picoult chillingly details Turk’s transition to white supremacist. . . . [T]his story belongs to Ruth and Turk and the changes they undergo as the book unfolds. There are times it’s hard to read because of the window it opens into our 2016 world, but it’s even harder to put down. Picoult has outdone herself with Small Great Things.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch“Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things has had an even more powerful impact on me than John Howard Griffin’s book [Black Like Me], and I am still trying to absorb it all. I nearly put it down during the first few chapters. Some of the main characters are white supremacists, and I found the hatred expressed difficult to read. . . . I would have missed a treasure if I had not returned to Small Great Things. . . . For me, Kennedy’s journey was in many ways my journey. She is confident she does not see ‘color’ in people, but Ruth has a lifetime of lessons to teach her, and she taught me, too. . . . I learned that racism has two sides, and the privileges afforded whites are just as big a problem as the overt discrimination against those of color. Revelations abound in this skillfully written novel.” —Sandy Mahaffey, The Free Lance-Star “This book certainly left me thinking, and hopefully it will lead to honest conversations and a better understanding about race and prejudice and how we can learn to live together with true respect and equity. I highly recommend this book to all readers.” —The Missourian“Author Jodi Picoult weaves a complicated story. . . . Small Great Things takes a raw, critical look at racism, specifically, the subtleties that perpetuate, instead of change, a flawed system. Active racism is easy to spot, but passive racism is more difficult to discern. This novel made me ponder and reconsider how I really think and feel about these issues. In my opinion, this powerful book is written for our times and will generate deep discussions for book clubs.” —Steamboat Pilot & Today (Colorado)“[A] great make-you-think novel. . . . Author Jodi Picoult wrapped a story around a nugget of news, and it’s not a particularly relaxing thing: her stellar characterization—for Turk, especially—will make you squirm. . . . Picoult peppers her story with precisely-right extras, a properly-unwound trial, and a perfect ending to this glued-to-your-hands novel. Fans of Picoult, get ready, set, go. You know you want this book—just as you will if you’re a lover of make-you-think novels. Start Small Great Things and you can’t put it down.” —Quad-City Times (Iowa and Illinois) “Picoult can be relied upon to find the themes that are most important to our national conversation and then to explore them with wit, warmth, and skill. . . . This excellent, timely novel is sure to be loved by Picoult’s fans and is certain to create new ones.” —Michael Hermann, owner of Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, NH, American Booksellers Association