Small Great Things

Small Great Things

A Novel

Book - 2016
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A woman and her husband admitted to a hospital to have a baby requests 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 a 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.
Publisher: New York :, Ballantine Books,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780345544957
Characteristics: 470 pages ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

October 17, 2017

From the critics

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Oct 18, 2018

I thought this was really well done, eye opening, relevant, and thought provoking. The plot does take on racism, both active and passive, and the story was very engrossing.

Sep 18, 2018

This is a well written story that should be read by all, especially those of us who think we have no racial prejudices!

Aug 09, 2018

Read but want to read again.

Jun 20, 2018

This is one of the best books I have read in awhile. I was hooked and the story was extremely moving., thought provoking and important.

May 09, 2018

Difficult to put the book down, but very disappointed at the political jabs. We certainly could do without those, and they were not needed. Because of this, I will not be buying any more of her books. So sorry she had to do that! We get enough of those throughout our days just living life.

May 04, 2018

Even when I needed to, I didn’t want to put this book down. I brought it wherever I was just in case I had a few minutes to read it. What an important message and written so careful and blunt. Although I could’ve done without the historical/political aspects woven somewhere in the beginning/middle, as well as the sugar coated ending (though I am a sucker for those types of endings), I did still find the book to have accomplished what it was set out to do. It’s such an important read and though I am neither white nor black, I think it was written/handled delicately yet candid/direct. Also, the book made me laugh, cry, worry, gasp, and empathize (for both sides). Quite the interesting read! Highly recommend!!

Mar 23, 2018

First book I've read by this author. I'm only about five chapters in and I cannot put it down!!

Feb 15, 2018

I have read many of Ms Picoult's earlier works and found them to be thought provoking and entertaining. Good fictional reads tackling tough topics. Then I read "Leaving Time" and for the first time I was not that impressed. Now I am half-way through Small Great Things and trying to decide if I want to finish it or stop right now. The time invested to finish it will be time I can never recoup, so it's legitimate to question if it is worth the expense involved. The current political arena seems to have emboldened people in the entertainment industry - now including authors - to make political statements and assume that the captive audience can "just deal with it." I for one am unwilling to have the time I have set aside for entertainment to be brushed with a heavy stroke of someone else's political views. I do not mind the racial tension in this story - that part of it is the educational aspect that I have come to recognize as a strength in this author's writings. I do not mind introspection over the differences between the black and white life experiences. All of that could have been achieved without the political insults woven into the story. If I do finish this book - highly unlikely - it will be the last that I read by this author.

Jan 03, 2018

This is one of Jodi Picoult's best works. Very realistic with the dynamics between the characters and the situation which is the main plot of the story. The racism part was hard for me to read, but it was necessary to show what people of diverse backgrounds go through on a regular basis. This is a must read.

Nov 16, 2017

I could not put this book down. It was great story of how race is perceived by most people and to other people it’s not by race, but by social class. The strength to overcome diversity and to live with it was so inspiring. Ruth an African American nurse who went to an Ivy League school to become a nurse works for a hospital that threw her under the bus when a baby dies. Kennedy McQuarrie, a lawyer who gave up to work at a big law firm to work as a public defender so she could have more time for family gets this case and it not only interrupt her career but also the way she sees how society treats other people based on skin color. A white surprimast, Turk up bring was not so easy. His dad left his mom, therefore he finds a farther figure from another guy who happens to introduce him to the White Power Movement where he found acceptance. His story really has a twist at the end and it was comforting to see how his character changes and turns his life around to be more positive to his environment. One of the best parts I liked was at the end of the story when Turk has changed his appearances and brings his daughter to the doctor who is Ruth. Ruth doesn’t recognize Turk, but he says Thank you for everything to her.

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Apr 26, 2017

“The best lies are the ones that are wrapped around a core of truth.” - p. 113

Apr 26, 2017

“The only time people who look like us are making history, it’s a footnote.” - p. 119

Apr 26, 2017

“Freedom is the fragile neck of a daffodil, after the longest of winters.” - p. 449

Apr 13, 2017

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Apr 13, 2017

“Admitting that racism has played a part in our success means admitting that the American dream isn’t quite so accessible to all.”

Apr 13, 2017

“It’s the difference between dancing along the eggshell crust of acquaintance and diving into the messy center of a relationship. It’s not always perfect; it’s not always pleasant—but because it is rooted in respect, it is unshakable.”

Apr 13, 2017

“You say you don’t see color…but that’s all you see. You’re so hyperaware of it, and of trying to look like you aren’t prejudiced, you can’t even understand that when you say race doesn’t matter all I hear is you dismissing what I’ve felt, what I’ve lived, what it’s like to be put down because of the color of my skin.”

Apr 13, 2017

“Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into account, so everyone has a chance to succeed.”

Apr 13, 2017

“In a lot of ways, having a teenager isn't all that different from having a newborn. You learn to read the reactions, because they're incapable of saying exactly what it is that's causing pain.”

Apr 13, 2017

“It just goes to show you: every baby is born beautiful.
It's what we project on them that makes them ugly.”

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Add Age Suitability

Aug 17, 2018

pink_flamingo_961 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Summary

Sep 06, 2017

This stunning new novel is Jodi Picoult at her finest--complete with unflinching insights, richly layered characters, and a page-turning plot with a gripping moral dilemma at its heart. Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family--especially her teenage son--as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others--and themselves--might be wrong


Add Notices

Jan 06, 2018

Coarse Language: This book does use common swear words as well as the n-word

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