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.