Small Great Things

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Small Great Things is a novel by Jodi Picoult published on 2016-10-11. The story is about a black nurse named Ruth who is accused of murdering a newborn by white supremacists parents. The book is written in first-person perspective from the stand point of three different characters, the nurse, the racist, and the nurse's attorney.

I learned about this book through a server at a restaurant I frequent. She really enjoyed it (and the previous works of the author), and, believing that I would love it too, lent me her copy.


I do not own this book, but I am listening to the audio book.



  • Overall, the book is well-written and interesting. I like that the story jumps between three different characters and shows each person's biased point of view.
  • I like how Picoult humanizes the villain. Turk isn't a no-good racist just because he hates everyone who isn't also a white supremacist, he has a history and major people and events in his past that slowly turned him into a no-good racist.
  • I like how Ruth's attorney, Kennedy, bumbles with race relations. Like most people with a primarily white neighborhood, she doesn't understand how offensive it is to say cliche phrases like, "I don't see color," and, after seeing only a small amount of prejudice, "I get it now." This shows that she clearly doesn't get it, but also that her heart is in the right place.
  • I like that, once Kennedy becomes more aware of the harassment Ruth faces, her eyes are opened and she begins seeing institutional racism everywhere, even in children's cartoons.


  • Some of the harassment Ruth sees, like when she's singled out at TJ Maxx even though she's shopping with a white woman, seems a bit forced. I don't deny that people of color face harassment all the time, but it's as though Picoult wanted to include every form of harassment people of color have to deal with in a single narrative.
  • Things get a little slow in the middle of the book. It's interesting to learn how Ruth resorts to working at fast food to make ends meet while her nursing license has been revoked, but it's far less interesting to learn about the ins-and-outs of cooking fries. I'm presuming the author's goal was to show that Ruth is methodical and meticulous no matter what she does, perfect qualities for a nurse, but I think it could have been done in a more interesting manner.


  • Nothing.