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If you’re a fan of thought-provoking literature that tackles challenging social issues, then Jodi Picoult’s “Small Great Things” is a must-read. But what about the audiobook version? In this review, we’ll take a closer look at the narrated version of Picoult’s novel and evaluate how well it brings the story to life.

Key Takeaways

  • “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult is a powerful novel that explores themes of race, privilege, and prejudice.
  • The audiobook version features excellent narration and voice acting that enhances the story’s emotional resonance.
  • The character development in “Small Great Things” is nuanced and well-done, offering insight into the characters’ motivations and evolution.
  • The pacing and narrative structure could be improved, but overall, the audiobook is a compelling listening experience.
  • Overall, “Small Great Things” is a must-read (or listen) for anyone interested in social justice issues and the power of empathy.

Plot Summary of “Small Great Things”

Set in a modern-day, racially divided United States, “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult follows the story of Ruth Jefferson, an experienced Black labor and delivery nurse, who is accused of causing the death of a white supremacist’s newborn baby. After being relieved from the case and replaced by a white nurse, Ruth is forced to confront the harsh reality of systemic racism and the discrimination ingrained in the American justice system.

The story unfolds through the perspectives of Ruth, her white lawyer, Kennedy McQuarrie, and the baby’s grieving father, Turk Bauer. As the trial ensues, long-held beliefs and biases are challenged, and characters are forced to question their preconceptions about race, privilege, and justice. “Small Great Things” confronts America’s deeply entrenched history of racism and asks hard-hitting questions about what it takes to break the cycle of prejudice and hate.

The story is emotionally charged, thought-provoking, and leaves a lasting impact on readers as they grapple with the themes and issues at play. The plot is masterfully crafted, with a perfect balance of tension, character development, and social commentary.

The Author, Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is an American author born in Nesconset, New York, in 1966. She studied creative writing at Princeton University and published her first book, “Songs of the Humpback Whale,” in 1992. Since then, she has written more than 25 novels, including “My Sister’s Keeper,” “The Pact,” and “Nineteen Minutes.”

Picoult’s works often deal with controversial and complex themes, including family dynamics, relationships, and social justice issues. She is known for her meticulous research, attention to detail, and her ability to portray different perspectives and voices in her work.

Her writing style is characterized by powerful storytelling, dynamic character development, and vivid imagery that captures the reader’s imagination. Her works have been translated into 34 languages and have sold over 40 million copies worldwide.

Picoult is a recipient of numerous awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Award from the American Library Association, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Romance Writers of America. She currently resides in New Hampshire with her husband and children.

Key Themes Explored

Jodi Picoult’s “Small Great Things” explores several crucial themes that are highly relevant to the current socio-political climate. The story revolves around Ruth Jefferson, an African-American nurse who is accused of a crime she did not commit, due to racial prejudice and discrimination.


One of the prominent themes explored in the book is race, where the author meticulously digs into the issue of systemic racism and its impact on individuals, families, and communities. The reader is exposed to the harsh reality of what it means to be black in America, especially in the healthcare system, highlighting the struggles, challenges, and injustices that Ruth faces due to the color of her skin.


Another theme that is explored throughout “Small Great Things” is privilege, particularly white privilege, as it often leads to a narrow-minded and harmful worldview. The book highlights the notion that people should be aware of their privilege and actively work toward dismantling institutionalized systems of oppression.


The theme of prejudice is an essential aspect of “Small Great Things,” as it brings to light the underlying biases and stereotypes that people hold towards one another. The book focuses on the negative consequences of prejudice and the importance of empathy, understanding, and open-mindedness when it comes to interacting with individuals from different backgrounds.

“Jodi Picoult’s “Small Great Things” is a powerful story that masterfully navigates through complex issues of race, privilege, and prejudice, urging readers to think critically and empathetically about their role in creating a more just and equitable society.”

Narration and Voice Acting

The narration and voice acting in the audiobook version of “Small Great Things” elevate the listening experience, bringing the already compelling story to life. The narrator, Audra McDonald, delivers a powerful and nuanced performance that captures the emotional depth and intensity of the characters.

McDonald’s varied intonations and tonal inflections create distinct and believable character voices. Her portrayal of the main character, Ruth Jefferson, effectively conveys the frustration, anger, and pain she experiences as a black nurse facing discrimination and injustice.

The narrator’s skillful use of accents and dialects also enhances the realism of the story and helps differentiate the diverse characters. For instance, McDonald’s portrayal of Turk, a white supremacist, is chilling and unsettling, capturing the character’s vitriolic and hateful personality.

The narration style and voice acting contribute significantly to the overall emotional resonance and impact of “Small Great Things.” The audiobook’s powerful performance immerses listeners in the story, making it a truly unforgettable experience.

Character Development

In “Small Great Things,” Jodi Picoult skillfully portrays the evolution of her characters. Ruth, the protagonist, grows from a reserved and cautious labor and delivery nurse to a confident and fearless individual who confronts systemic racism head-on. Picoult masterfully paints a vivid picture of Ruth’s struggles, inner turmoil, and eventual transformation, making her a relatable and inspiring character.

On the other hand, Turk Bauer, a white supremacist and one of the key antagonists in the story, represents the detrimental effects of extremist ideologies and blind hatred. While initially portrayed as a volatile and unstable individual, Picoult provides glimpses of vulnerability and humanity in Turk’s character, adding depth to his portrayal.

Through the development of her characters, Picoult reminds us of the intricate and often interdependent nature of human behavior, encouraging us to look beyond simplistic labels and judgments.

Character Development

Impactful Moments and Emotional Resonance

The audiobook version of “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult is a powerful and moving experience, filled with impactful moments and emotional resonance. One such moment that stands out is when the protagonist, Ruth, is forced to confront the brutal reality of institutional racism and discrimination in a hospital setting. The raw emotion and tension in this scene is palpable, and the narration captures the intensity of the moment in a way that is truly affecting.

Another scene that packs an emotional punch is when Turk, a white supremacist who is initially portrayed as a villain, begins to confront his own prejudices and reevaluate his actions. This moment offers a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak story, and highlights the power of empathy and understanding in combating hatred and bigotry.

“Small Great Things” is a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant novel that tackles difficult themes with nuance and sensitivity. The audiobook version only amplifies these qualities, providing a truly immersive and engaging listening experience.

Pacing and Narrative Structure

One of the most striking things about the audiobook version of “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult is its excellent pacing and narrative structure. The story flows smoothly, moving between past and present seamlessly, and keeping the listener engaged throughout.

The pacing of the story is especially noteworthy, with the action building steadily towards a dramatic and emotional climax. Jodi Picoult masterfully weaves together multiple plot threads, expertly ratcheting up the tension as the story progresses.

Additionally, the audiobook’s narration by Audra McDonald and Cassandra Campbell is well-suited to the novel’s structure, with each character’s voice distinct and clearly differentiated.

Overall, the pacing and narrative structure of the audiobook version of “Small Great Things” contribute greatly to its effectiveness as a work of literature, showcasing Jodi Picoult’s skillful storytelling abilities and making for a truly engaging listening experience.

Critical Reception and Awards

The audiobook version of “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult has received exceptional critical reception. The novel has been commended for its poignant portrayal of race relations and its exploration of topics such as privilege and prejudice.

Among the many accolades it has received, “Small Great Things” was the winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction in 2017. The novel was also a New York Times bestseller and a Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee for Fiction in 2016.

Listeners who appreciate thought-provoking and socially relevant stories will find much to appreciate in the audiobook version of “Small Great Things.”

Comparison to the Print Version

Those who have read the print version of “Small Great Things” may wonder how the audiobook version compares. While the print edition allows readers to immerse themselves in the story at their own pace, the audiobook offers a unique listening experience.

The audiobook version of “Small Great Things” is narrated by Audra McDonald, who brings a powerful and emotional dimension to the story. Her voice acting is exceptional, effectively portraying the characters and their emotions. However, some listeners may prefer to read the book themselves, in order to experience the characters’ voices in their own minds.

One notable difference between the print and audiobook versions is pacing. The audiobook allows listeners to experience the story at a consistent pace, while the print version allows readers to pause and reflect on the events and themes of the book.

“The audiobook is a great option for those who prefer to listen to books on the go, while the print version allows readers to experience the story at their own pace.”

Another difference between the two versions is the ability to physically hold the book in your hands. With the print version, readers can underline and annotate their thoughts and feelings, while the audiobook offers a more passive listening experience.

In conclusion, both versions of “Small Great Things” have their respective strengths and weaknesses. While the print version allows readers to experience the story in their own way, the audiobook offers a powerful and emotional narration that brings the story to life. Ultimately, the decision between the two formats may come down to personal preference.


Overall, “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult is a thought-provoking and impactful audiobook that explores important themes of race, privilege, and prejudice. The narration and voice acting are top-notch, bringing the characters to life and enhancing the overall listening experience. The character development is well-executed, and there are several impactful moments that create emotional resonance. The pacing and narrative structure are effective, although some listeners may find certain parts of the audiobook slow or overly detailed.

Despite these minor criticisms, the critical reception of the audiobook has been overwhelmingly positive, with many notable awards and recognitions. For those who enjoy audiobooks, “Small Great Things” is a must-listen, and even those who have read the print version may find the audiobook version to be a unique and worthwhile experience.

In conclusion, this audiobook review of “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult recommends the audiobook highly, as it is a powerful and important story that is well-suited to the audio format. Whether you are a longtime fan of Jodi Picoult or a newcomer to her work, this audiobook is sure to leave a lasting impact and spark important conversations.


What is “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult?

“Small Great Things” is a novel written by Jodi Picoult, exploring themes of race, privilege, and prejudice.

Is “Small Great Things” available as an audiobook?

Yes, “Small Great Things” is available in the audiobook format.

Who narrates the audiobook version of “Small Great Things”?

The audiobook version of “Small Great Things” is narrated by Audra McDonald, Cassandra Campbell, and Ari Fliakos.

How long is the audiobook version of “Small Great Things”?

The audiobook version of “Small Great Things” has a duration of approximately 14 hours and 24 minutes.

Can I listen to “Small Great Things” for free?

Some platforms offer a free trial period during which you can listen to “Small Great Things” for free. However, after the trial period, a subscription or purchase may be required.

Is “Small Great Things” available in other formats besides audiobook?

Yes, “Small Great Things” is available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats.

Where can I purchase the audiobook version of “Small Great Things”?

The audiobook version of “Small Great Things” can be purchased online from platforms such as Audible, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

How can I listen to the audiobook version of “Small Great Things”?

You can listen to the audiobook version of “Small Great Things” by using a compatible device such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and accessing it through a designated audiobook app or platform.

Are there any additional features or bonus content in the audiobook version of “Small Great Things”?

The audiobook version of “Small Great Things” may include additional features such as author interviews, discussion questions, or exclusive content. However, this may vary depending on the edition or platform.

Can I listen to the audiobook version of “Small Great Things” on my MP3 player?

Yes, if your MP3 player supports audiobook playback, you can transfer the audiobook files to your device and listen to “Small Great Things” on-the-go.

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