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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

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    • From the cover ***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.

    • AudioFile Magazine Three narrators portray the diverse perspectives of Picoult's three main characters. Audra McDonald portrays Ruth, an African-American nurse who is facing murder charges following the death of a newborn. McDonald voices Ruth's deep-seated belief in the good of others as well as her shaken faith in a way that is both engaging and heartbreaking. Ari Fliakos depicts Turk, the baby's father and a white supremacist. Fliakos humanizes Turk even at his worst, though it is often difficult to listen to his ignorance. The discomfort he creates in the listener makes the story more powerful. Cassandra Campbell perfectly captures Kennedy, a white public defender who takes on Ruth's case, channeling her own frustration and na�vet� as she comes to recognize her power and privilege. As always, Picoult asks hard social questions. K.S.M. � AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
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