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Small Great Things
Cover of Small Great Things
Small Great Things
A Novel

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

  • With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead readers to question everything they know about privilege, power, and race, Small Great Things is the stunning new page-turner from Jodi Picoult.
    SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
    "[Picoult] offers a thought-provoking examination of racism in America today, both overt and subtle. Her many readers will find much to discuss in the pages of this topical, moving book."—Booklist (starred review)
    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.
    With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.
    Praise for Small Great Things
    "Small Great Things is the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written. . . . It will challenge her readers . . . [and] expand our cultural conversation about race and prejudice."The Washington Post
    "A novel that puts its finger on the very pulse of the nation that we live in today . . . a fantastic read from beginning to end, as can always be expected from Picoult, this novel maintains a steady, page-turning pace that makes it hard for readers to put down."San Francisco Book Review
    "A gripping courtroom drama . . . Given the current political climate it is quite prescient and worthwhile. . . . This is a writer who understands her characters inside and out."—Roxane Gay, The New York Times Book Review
    "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

  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

  • With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead readers to question everything they know about privilege, power, and race, Small Great Things is the stunning new page-turner from Jodi Picoult.
    SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
    "[Picoult] offers a thought-provoking examination of racism in America today, both overt and subtle. Her many readers will find much to discuss in the pages of this topical, moving book."—Booklist (starred review)
    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.
    With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.
    Praise for Small Great Things
    "Small Great Things is the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written. . . . It will challenge her readers . . . [and] expand our cultural conversation about race and prejudice."The Washington Post
    "A novel that puts its finger on the very pulse of the nation that we live in today . . . a fantastic read from beginning to end, as can always be expected from Picoult, this novel maintains a steady, page-turning pace that makes it hard for readers to put down."San Francisco Book Review
    "A gripping courtroom drama . . . Given the current political climate it is quite prescient and worthwhile. . . . This is a writer who understands her characters inside and out."—Roxane Gay, The New York Times Book Review
    "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

  • Available formats-
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    Subjects-
    Languages:-
    Copies-
    • Available:
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    • Library copies:
      1
    Levels-
    • ATOS:
    • Lexile:
      800
    • Interest Level:
    • Text Difficulty:
      3 - 4

    Recommended for you

    Excerpts-
    • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

      Copyright © 2016 Jodi Picoult

      Stage One: Early Labor

      Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.

      —Benjamin Franklin

      Ruth

      The 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...

    About the Author-
    • Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four novels, including Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, My Sister's Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.
    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      August 29, 2016
      Bestselling author Picoult’s latest page-turner is inspired by a Flint, Mich., event in which a white supremacist father refused to allow an experienced African-American labor and delivery nurse to touch his newborn. In Picoult’s story, a medical crisis results in an infant’s death and a murder charge against a black nurse named Ruth Jefferson. The story unfolds from three viewpoints: Ruth’s, the infant’s father—a skinhead named Turk—and Ruth’s public defender, Kennedy McQuarrie, a white professional woman questioning her own views about racism. The author’s comprehensive research brings veracity to Ruth’s story as a professional black woman trying to fit into white society, to Turk’s inducement into the white-power movement, and to Kennedy’s soul-searching about what it’s like to be black in America. Unfortunately, the author undermines this richly drawn and compelling story with a manipulative final plot twist as well as a Pollyannaish ending. Some may be put off by the moralistic undertone of Picoult’s tale, while others will appreciate the inspiration it provides for a much-needed conversation about race and prejudice in America.

    • Kirkus

      In Picoult's (Leaving Time, 2014, etc.) latest novel, Ruth Jefferson, a labor and delivery nurse, struggles to survive claims of murdering a patient while keeping her own family intact.Picoult has made a name for herself crafting novels of depth and insight, peopled with rich characters and relationships. Here, she explores the intersection of racial bias, medicine, and the law. African-American Ruth Jefferson has been a labor and delivery nurse for more than 20 years, and she's the kind of professional every patient dreams of: she genuinely cares for her patients and takes joy in seeking out ways she can help them--whether it be a back rub or an epidural. But Ruth is completely thrown when a newborn baby's parents, both white supremacists, demand that she be removed from their care team because they don't want a black person touching their child. In a moment of deliberate plot maneuvering, Ruth is left as the sole nurse on the child's floor, and the baby goes into cardiac arrest and dies. Ruth, accused of hesitating before performing CPR, is charged with murder. There's no question that Picoult is a talented writer. The plot is suspenseful, the structure and pacing exquisite. But there is also no question that writing a story from the perspective of a black woman requires more racial consciousness than she displays here. At times the plot feels more like an intellectual exercise to understand racism than an organic exploration of a real person's life. The voice is that of a nonblack person discovering all at once that racism exists rather than that of a black person who has lived with racism her whole life. Picoult has drawn upon every black stereotype available: here is the black single mother, the angry black woman, the mammy, the maid, the teenage "thug," the exceptional token, and the grandstanding preacher. Alternating among the points of view of Ruth; the white supremacist father, Turk Bauer; and Ruth's lawyer, Kennedy McQuarrie, Picoult is at her best when she lets the novel solidify into Kennedy's narrative, the tale of a white woman who thinks she's more liberal than she actually is. It's Kennedy's journey of coming to terms with her own racist relatives and white privilege, as she realizes, for the first time, the pervasiveness of American racism, that is the real story here--and the novel would have been stronger if it had been written from this perspective throughout. After she sets up a world in which racism thoroughly defines every aspect of character and plot, Picoult's conclusion occurs in a separate fairy-tale world where racism suddenly does not exist, resulting in a rather juvenile portrayal of racial politics in America. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    • Library Journal

      May 15, 2016
      Picoult, who boasts eight consecutive No. 1 "New York Times" best sellers, has a way of turning social issues into strong commercial fiction. Here, parents at a hospital to have a baby insist that one of the nurses be reassigned; they are white supremacists and Ruth is black. The hospital complies, but Ruth is the only nurse available when the baby goes into cardiac arrest, and her caution about rushing to the baby's aid leads to tragedy--and a trial. What's crucial is the unfolding of a deeper understanding between Ruth and her (white) public defender, who's initially reluctant to make race an issue. With a 15-city tour.

      Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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