Small Great Things is the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written. Frank, uncomfortably introspective and right on the day’s headlines, it will challenge her readers ... Yes, Small Great Things is overly long, with a meandering middle, a tendency toward melodrama and a rushed ending that feels glib. And Picoult will be fairly criticized for choices she’s made in her representations of people of color and an oversimplification of complex issues. But it’s also exciting to have a high-profile writer like Picoult take an earnest risk to expand our cultural conversation about race and prejudice.
...readers will be forced to tussle with set ideas about race and possibility, but also about justice and the American legal system presumed to uphold it ... Weaving three first-person accounts Small Great Things is big on ambition. Which doesn’t save the setup from feeling stacked and melodramatic ... Can Ruth be the hero of her own story? Or must she be saved by Kennedy? Turns out, this is Picoult’s driving concern, too. That Small Great Things embraces this question with empathy, hope and humility is no small feat.
To say this story is horrifyingly real undersells it — Picoult chillingly details Turk’s transition to white supremacist ... There are times it’s hard to read because of the window it opens into our 2016 world, but it’s even harder to put down. Picoult has outdone herself with Small Great Things.
Every once in a while, a book comes along that you just can’t shake. It surfaces in dreams and in casual conversation, or it brushes against your consciousness as you encounter the rush of everyday life.
Jodi Picoult’s new novel is one of those stories ... the author manages not to be preachy, instead tackling the complex layers of racial relations with a blunt honesty and disarming humility ... a courageous and important work.
[Picoult] is so intent on presenting every aspect of the topic that her characters become subservient to that goal ... inconsistencies for the sake of loading racial information onto [Ruth's] character make it difficult to get a true emotional fix ... Some readers will keep going because there is so much to be outraged over, or they will be fascinated by the many, many birth scenes, or they will be shocked by the quick glimpses of skinhead wilding and the white-supremacist network. But this is a long book with many technical issues. It bogs down in repetitions and flat scenes that are not well edited.