Review of Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Let me just preface this review by saying I’m a HUGE Jodi Picoult fan. The Tenth Circle, Nineteen Minutes, and House Rules are three of my all-time favorite books and needless to say, I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to review this book before it is released this October.

Small Great Things follows the story of Ruth Jefferson, an African American labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital who is charged with murder after the death of a child who was born to white supremacists Turk and Brittany Bauer. In typical Jodi Picoult fashion, this story is told from the perspective of Ruth herself, her defense attorney, Kennedy Mcquarrie, and Turk, the father of the baby at the center of the case.

Part of what makes Jodi Picoult’s novels so captivating is the tremendous amount of research she puts in to make the story and setting come alive and Small Great Things is no different. Picoult expertly made the streets of my home state come alive. I was particularly impressed with her special attention to detail which allowed her to accurately capture the stereotypes and overall vibes of different regions of New Haven. I was also pleasantly surprised by the way Picoult captured the racial tensions that this story was built upon. As a person of color raised in an interracial and interfaith home just 30 minutes from where this story unfolds, I was a bit wary of how well Picoult would tackle the complexities of race relations, especially in an area like New Haven. However, Picoult expertly captured both active racism, which was embodied by Turk Bauer’s white supremacy, and passive racism, as demonstrated by Kennedy’s problematic colorblindness. She also demonstrated a clear understanding of the privilege that being light-skinned gives people of color in addition to the guilt associated with “forgetting where you came from” when an individual begins to succeed and navigate a predominantly white world.

My only criticism of Small Great Things was the ending (and I’ll try not to give anything away since it hasn’t been released yet!) I felt that Jodi Picoult worked so hard and, in my opinion, succeeded at creating a story that was very grounded in our every day world and then the ending was very story book.  As a reader, I understood why the choices she made worked best on a literary level, however I couldn’t help but be a tad disappointed with how it all turned out.

Ultimately, I can’t wait for this book to come out in just a few short weeks so you all can get your hands on it because I think you’ll really enjoy it. In the comments below, let me know what your favorite Jodi Picoult book is or simply what you’re reading this week!

4 out of 5 stars

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