Jodi Picoult’s SMALL GREAT THINGS is a Must-Listen

Jodi Picoult’s latest novel, Small Great Things, addresses many great big things with emotionally-charged, lyrical prose and a talented trio of narrators.

*May Contain Spoilers!* Small Great Things is a story about race. Turk Bauer, a young white supremacist, has just become a father to a newborn baby boy, Davis. Ruth, a seasoned African-American labor and delivery nurse, comes in for her shift the morning after Davis is born. Checking in on Davis is part of her job. Turk, though, demands that Ruth never interact with his baby again because she is black. Ruth’s boss complies. Later, due to unfortunate timing, Ruth is left alone with the baby when he stops breathing and begins to go into a medical emergency. Sadly, the baby does not make it, and Turk and his wife, Brit, are not only consumed by grief but also by rage. They end up accusing Ruth of murder. Unable to afford a lawyer, Ruth meets Kennedy, a white female public defense lawyer, at her arraignment. Kennedy jumps at the chance to take on Ruth’s case; her counsel, though, is not to mention race in the courtroom. What follows is a combination of riveting courtroom drama, lessons in social injustice, and the strength of love (or hate) and how it shapes a life.

Small Great Things is told from the three perspectives of Ruth, Turk, and Kennedy. Each characters’ chapters are voiced to perfection. Cassandra Campbell (narrating the chapters in Kennedy’s voice) and Ari Fliakos (narrating the chapters in Turk’s voice) are experienced audiobook narrators whose performances conjure clear images of the characters they are portraying. Campbell deftly captures the privilege and happiness Kennedy experiences in her personal life contrasted to the steely resolve she projects in her professional life. Fliakos has just the right combination of rough gravel—so that you can feel the pain and anger bubbling beneath the surface—and soft tenderness, while he expresses his feelings for his family. New to audiobook narration is Audra McDonald, best known for acting and singing on Broadway. McDonald shines as the voice of Ruth. Her steady yet emotive tone immediately draws the listener in. She keeps herself tightly under control until she bursts; it is an explosion you can feel right down to your toes when it happens.

Listening to the story unfold through these three fantastic narrators makes all the hope, grief, anguish, anger, fear, and the fierce parental love that each of the main characters exhibit even more captivating and heart-wrenching.

Hear an excerpt of Small Great Things:

Small Great Things?


If you want even more of Ruth Jefferson’s story (along with Audra McDonald’s excellent narration), make sure to check out Jodi Picoult’s recent short story, “Shine”.