Jodi Picoult is a prolific and bestselling novelist whose books captivate readers with their twists and turns, and fearless journeys into serious topics. This list of the best Jodi Picoult books includes her best long form fiction books, ranked and rated. If you are already a fan of Picoult, you can use this list to figure out what to read next. If you are just getting started, we’ve got suggestions for her most recent, popular and well-rated books (with rankings and a synopsis).
Many of Jodi Picoult’s best books explore controversial and multi-layered issues like racism, reproductive rights, religion, euthanasia, and more. Rather than present a simplified viewpoint, her novels provide multiple viewpoints from a complex cast of characters.
With over 28 novels published and more coming out every year, there is no shortage of reading material for Picoult fans.
She’s been publishing books since the 90’s, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Some of her bestseller books have been turned into movies or plays, and she has collaborated on books like Mad Honey with other authors. Bookmark this list to return to to select your next choice from our list of the best Jodi Picoult books.
We are tacking this list of Jodi Picoult books three ways. The first section is a list of her five most popular books (based upon the # of ratings and reviews), then we’ve listing her five most recent books (in order with ratings), and lastly, we’ve ranked everything, starting with the top rated Jodi Picoult books.
For the purpose of this list, we’ve just included Picoult’s long form fiction.
5 Most Popular Jodi Picoult Books
|# of ratings||Popular Titles|
|1.16 million||My Sister’s Keeper (pub 2004)|
|344/k||Nineteen Minutes (pub 2007)|
|334/k||Small Great Things (pub 2016)|
|295/k||The Pact (pub 1998)|
|199/k||The Storyteller (pub 2013)|
5 Recent Jodi Picoult Titles Ordered By Pub Date
|Pub Year||Most Recent Titles|
|2021||Wish You Were Here|
|2020||The Book of Two Ways|
|2018||A Spark of Light|
|2016||Great Small Things|
The Best Jodi Picoult Books in Order of Rating
Small Great Things (Ruth Jefferson #1)
Labor and delivery nurse Ruth Jefferson is good at her job, and works hard to raise her son on her own after her husband died in a tour of duty. Her hard work has paid off and her life is going smoothly, until one day Ruth, an African American, is rejected by a white supremacist couple who just had a baby.
The situation becomes even worse when the couple’s baby goes into distress, and Ruth must decide whether to follow orders or step in. Afterwards Ruth is brought to trial, and Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes on her case. What follows is a dramatic trial and exploration of racism, privilege, friendship, and the power of telling your story.
“Exquisitely written…..filled with grief – gets under your skin and leaves you changed!!!!”
How far can we (or should we) go to forgive someone? The Storyteller explores this question through the relationship of Sage Singer, a young baker battling physical and emotional scars, and her unlikely friendship with an elderly customer, Joseph Weber. Sage and Joseph confront the past through her grandmother’s experience in the Holocaust and Joseph’s connection to it. Will Sage decide to help Joseph, and can she come to terms with the terrible past?
“The Storyteller is Picoult at her prime. She puts a human face on the Holocaust, a tragic, beastly, and horrendous event. She deftly delves into the human psyche and makes you think about what it means to be a survivor, a storyteller, a human.”
(Co-authored with Jennifer Finney Boylan)
This is the latest Picoult novel, co-written with Jennifer Flynn Boylan. The story begins as Olivia McAfee moves to take over her father’s beekeeping business with her son Asher, after fleeing a problematic marriage. Lily Campanello and her mother Ava move to the same town, also looking for a fresh start. Lily and Asher meet at school and start a romance, until it all goes wrong and Lily is found dead.
Asher becomes the prime suspect and Olivia panics. She feels that she must prove his innocence, but in the back of her mind she wonders if Asher could have inherited his father’s temper. This is a book full of rich emotion and an intense twist that the Picoult books are known for.
“Mad Honey is a powerful and emotional tale of secrets and truth, bravery and honesty, and above all, finding the inner strength to live life FULLY, no matter how great the risk, and having faith in the reward.”
Read it for book club and use our Mad Honey discussion guide.
In 19 minutes, a small town is changed forever. Bullied student Peter brings a gun to school and kills 8 of his classmates and a teacher. The trial Judge’s daughter Josie is a prime witness, but she can’t seem to remember what happened. As the trial unfolds and we see what Peter’s life was like, the community needs to come to terms with what happened, and their role in it. A page turner with a twist at the end, this story explores violence, accountability, bullying, and communal responsibility.
“I haven’t read a book that affected me so deeply, shook me to the core, made me scream! The high tension story telling of school shootings, the earth shattering, soul shaking events, the aftermath, the tragedy, all those young people’s intense traumas, thought provoking perspectives, shocking revelations!”
My Sister’s Keeper
Anna has spent her life caring for her sister Kate. Anna was conceived to be a bone marrow match for her older sister Kate who has leukemia, and she has undergone countless medical interventions in order to help her sister survive. When she becomes a teenager, she challenges her role in life, in a way that will shake the family to its core.
This book examines the complicated relationships between family members, what we will do to save one person, what our responsibilities are to each other and how those are expressed. One of Picoult’s best sellers, this novel will take you on an emotional ride.
“This is truly a heart wrenching story, making you think from different perspectives! It’s a story of a family suffering from big tragedies.”
Jacob Hunt loves forensics, and helping to provide clues for the cops at crime scenes. He has Aspergers, and his devoted mother Emma works hard to provide him and his brother Theo with a good life. Despite that, when a dramatic murder occurs in their town, Jacob is a prime suspect and the misunderstandings related to someone with Asperger’s becomes harshly obvious. Through the family’s struggle with the trial we see the way special needs affect the immediate family, and how the community treats him.
“As with other Jodi Picoult novels, the author’s extensive research allowed me to learn a great deal about a particular topic, in this case both autism (specifically Asperger’s) and forensic science.”
A suicide pact, two close families, and a teenage romance, all add up to a very dramatic story. The Hartes and Golds are neighbors who have lived next to each other for years, raising their children together. Eventually Emily and Chris’s friendship blossoms into a romance in their teen years. When Emily is 17, she is found shot through the head. A gun with one bullet left, a supposed suicide pact, and secrets from the past will be brought up in the hunt to find out what happened, and who’s guilty for Emily’s death.
“Overall, a powerful read that will leave you asking yourself questions about life, death, love, and suffering afterwards. Not a book for the faint of heart.”
Handle With Care
Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe have two daughters, and are devastated to they find out that their second baby has osteogenesis imperfecta, which will cause her to have broken bones and pain all her life. Their family struggles with the financial and emotional ramifications of disability, and a choice causes them to confront a difficult question– what if they had know about Charlotte’s condition before birth?
Through a courtroom trial, friendship and relationship challenges, we see the family struggle to determine what a life is worth, and what should be sacrificed for one person.
“This book grabbed me hard and didn’t let me go (sleep was lost, bus stops missed, etc). The personal, ethical, moral and social issues contained in this book will keep book clubs talking for weeks.”
In Plain Truth, Picoult takes a look at the Amish way of life. After a dead infant is found in an Amish barn, police attention turns to Katie Fisher as the mother and likely killer. She denies everything, and is brought to trial. Meanwhile attorney Ellie Hathaway is taking a break from her job as a defense attorney in Philadelphia and staying with her great-aunt nearby. She ends up taking on Katie’s defense, and through their trial and relationship Picoult delves into the complexities of the Amish way of life, romance, fears, and desires.
“The level of research and detail that went into describing the Amish culture was amazing. The characters were realistic, well-developed and likable, and even though they were from a vastly different culture I still found them relatable.”
Wish You Were Here
Art dealer Diane O’Toole has her life perfectly planned out– marriage to her surgeon boyfriend Finn, climbing the career ladder, then kids and a large house in a few years. Everything is working out on time, until COVID hits. Finn is trapped at the hospital caring for COVID patients nearly constantly, and insists Diane take their planned trip to the Galapagos on her own.
Reluctantly Diane leaves, only to become trapped on the island during isolation. While there she experiences the beautiful nature of the Galapagos, and creates meaningful relationships with Gabriel and Beatriz, which cause her to question aspects of her own life. After a dramatic twist in the story, Diane reconsiders everything that has been important to her, her relationship with Finn, her mother, and how she lives her life.
“This is one of the author’s best works, it is multi-layered, the characters are stellar and feel so authentic, and whilst it does not make for easy reading, I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could.”
Read it for book club and use our Wish You Were Here discussion guide.
Leaving Time (Leaving Time #1)
Thirteen year old Jenna Metcalf lost her mother, who disappeared after an accident 10 years ago. Never giving up on her, Jenna pours over the journals that her mother kept when she worked closely with elephants. Jenna also consults with a detective and psychic, all to try to figure out what happened to her mother after the accident. The connections between the characters and the twists and turns make this story a page turner.
“The most brilliant, moving, emotionally resonant novel I’ve read in a long time. Loved the elephants. Loved the intrigue. Once again, Jodi Picoult brings the magic!”
If you also love pachyderms, check out our book list about elephants.
Nina Frost works as a prosecutor, sending child molesters to jail, and trying to keep criminals locked up. But when her own five year old son, Nathaniel is sexually assaulted, her world is turned upside down. Nina and her husband Caleb try to work through the system to reach some sort of justice for their son, but along the way are confronted with questions of just how far they will go to seek justice for their him.
“If I could use one word to describe this book.. it would simply be exceptional.”
Change of Heart
One family’s tragedy brings together four people with vastly different backgrounds, whose connection to one another will bring up questions of the death penalty, religion, vengeance, and salvation. Through the perspectives of a mother, death row inmate, priest, and attorney, Picoult weaves a tale full of emotion and moral questions.
“The story is beautifully crafted, and Jodi Picoult has an amazing way of weaving different lives together to describe the moments in which they intersect. It also got me thinking about forgiveness and justice, and what these two acts really mean.”
After losing his job as a teacher and coach because of sexual allegations, Jack St. Bride moves to the town of Salem Falls to start over, getting a dishwashing job at Addie Peabody’s diner. Addie herself is wary of men, but slowly Jack and Addie begin to fall for each other. Shockingly Jack faces another sexual assault accusation by a teenager, and the past he has tried to keep buried comes to light. Addie has to face difficult questions, is he guilty or innocent? What other surprises and secrets will be revealed?
“Overall, a profound story of injustice, lies, love, and small town life. The cast of characters are a wide variety of lovable, obnoxious, vulnerable, eccentric, etc. So interesting!”
After Mariah’s marriage falls apart, her daughter Faith starts showing some peculiar behavior. She is talking to someone whom she thinks is God, performing medical miracles, and showing stigmata. A television atheist, Ian Fletcher, starts investigating their story, and becomes wrapped up in their lives. The story journeys through romance, a custody battle, and questions of faith and belief.
“Absolutely fascinating. I love the mixed religion, religion in court, stigmata, psychological and medical, and family dynamics themes that arise while reading this book”
In this novel Picoult explores love, eugenics, grief, and ghosts through a cast of characters in Comtosook, Virginia. When a parcel of land is brought up for sale, mysterious events start happening. The local Abenaki Indian tribe insist it is a burial ground, and ghost hunter Ross Wakeman is brought in to investigate the mysterious occurrences. Paranormal possibilities are explored through the lives and pasts of those surrounding this mysterious place.
“This was a perfect choice for a book club discussion as it offered the avenue to discuss ghost stories, genetic testing, boundaries and possibilities.”
Sing You Home
Zoe Baxter goes through immense changes in a year. She and her husband Max lose the baby they have worked so hard to conceive. Afterwards she wants to try again but surprisingly, he decides he wants a divorce. Zoe quickly moves on to a new relationship where she again wants to start a family, but Max has also moved on and does not want their unborn child born into Zoe’s new family. The story plunges through religion, courtroom drama, LGBTQ rights, and the meaning of family.
Off the Page (Between the Lines #2)
(Co-authored with Samantha Van Leer)
A companion book to Between the Lines, this YA story follows Delilah, Oliver and their friends after they begin their adventures together in the real world. Lighthearted and sweet, this story examines the imperfections of life, and the characters’ struggles to fit into their new world.
“This was such a lovely fairy-tale-like story with a perfect combination.. or clashing of fairy tale reality and the kind of reality that we all go through.”
A Spark of Light
This story tackles a heavy topic, beginning at the Center, a women’s reproductive health care clinic. A gunman has just taken everyone in the clinic hostage, and working backward we learn about the stories of each individual, and what led them to be there. Through these stories Picoult lays bare the variety of opinions and viewpoints around abortion, the character’s romantic relationships, parent/child relationships, and life and death decisions. This book will definitely expose you to different viewpoints and make you consider other positions.
“This book will make you think. It will make you explore all angles. It will make you consider what you would do in these characters’ positions. It will stay with you long after you close the cover. I highly recommend it!”
A tragedy brings together members of a family who all have their own secrets, but must work together to make a fateful decision after the father, Luke, has an accident. Through the multiple viewpoints of Luke, his daughter Cara, estranged son Edward, and ex-wife Georgie, we learn what this family has been through, the secrets and thoughts of each, and how the lives of wolves work into their family story.
“I highly recommend this to anybody who is willing to listen and to feel; to those who highly value their familial relationships; to those who have at one time or another have walked out of his pack, but who have found and earned his way back.”
Delia Hopkins is leading a happy life in rural New Hampshire with her daughter, fiancé, and her search and rescue business. Until one day, when a family secret is revealed to her that flips her life upside down. Her widowed father doted on her, but held a secret from her that is life-changing. The story leads Delia and her father back to Arizona, where the family explores the difficulties of alcoholism, prison, and parental rights.
“I thought this was an amazing, thought-provoking story, which stayed with me long after I finished reading”
The Book of Two Ways
What if we chose the wrong path? In true Picoult fashion, this novel uses heavily researched topics like Egyptology and physics to question the choices we make in life. Dawn Edelstein survives a plane crash, but realizes her last thoughts hadn’t been about her husband, but a previous love, Wyatt Armstrong, whom she hasn’t seen in 15 years.
Should she return to her husband and beloved daughter in her comfortable life, or visit Wyatt with their unresolved history and her unfinished research? Passions, life choices, and love are explored through flashbacks to Dawn’s past with Wyatt and her present life.
“The Book of Two Ways provides a contemplative look at the multitude of possible paths set before us, the regret that can linger in the shadows of our choices, and the reality that each one of us will one day reach the end of the road”
Harvesting the Heart
Motherhood is a challenge in the best of circumstances. But for Paige, her past makes it even more difficult. Her mother abandoned her and her father when she was only five, and she has never fully come to terms with it. Now an adult, she is ready to set off on her own and go to art school. She meets an aspiring doctor named Nicholas and they fall in love, marry, and have a child. But Paige is not sure she is cut out for motherhood, and she and Nicholas differ in many ways. Haunted by past events, Paige sets out to figure out what she needs and how to come to terms with herself and her past.
“If you are looking for a thriller or twisting plots this book isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a very moving book that deals with postpartum depression and the difficulties of being married to the perfect man and not feeling perfect yourself, this is the perfect book for you.”
How far will someone go for love? A murder trial begins after a man named Jamie confesses to a mercy killing of his terminally ill wife. He confesses to Cameron McDonald, his cousin and the town’s police chief. Cameron and his wife Allie’s marriage becomes strained, and a stranger in town threatens to break apart their marriage. This story explores the bounds of love, loss, and forgiveness.
“Once again Picoult successfully addresses a heated topic with grace and neutrality. Readers will leave this book questioning their own views on euthanasia and the ripple effects it can have on those left behind.”
Between the Lines (Between the Lines #1)
(Co-authored with Samantha Van Leer)
This book is a departure from Picoult’s typical works, it is a YA novel written with her daughter. In a modern day fairy tale, Delilah is a teenager who struggles to fit in, but loves her books. One book in particular, Between the Lines, really speaks to her. She loves the handsome protagonist Prince Oliver, and fantasizes about what it would be like if the characters came to life. What she doesn’t realize is that the characters in the book are alive, and Oliver is aching to get out of the book and lead an unscripted life. In this charming and lighthearted magical story, we find out what happens when their two worlds collide.
“Trust me when I say it is something completely different from any of her previous works. And, boy, is it wonderful.”
Cassie and Alex seem to have a picture perfect life, him a handsome movie star, and Cassie a renowned anthropologist. But the marriage is not what it seems, and Cassie is not treated well. After a shocking personal event, Cassie begins to question where she belongs, and what choices she should make. Through her story we are introduced to anthropology, Native American culture, betrayal, abuse, and forgiveness.
“Beautiful and heartbreaking. My heart broke every time I read Cassie’s stories and her love for her abusive husband. This book will forever be in my mind and my heart even after I’ve finished it.”
The Tenth Circle
Trixie Stone is in love for the first time. At the age of 14, it doesn’t last forever. After an act of violence against her, their family is thrown into turmoil. Her father Daniel is a comic book artist who would do anything for his daughter, and her mother Laura is hiding her own troubles from the family. As the story progresses, we find out about Daniel’s past, the family’s troubles, and the bonds between parents and children.
“Empathetic characters, with a gripping plot, full of twists and turns, that will keep you guessing right up until the end.”
Songs of the Humpback Whale
Picoult’s first novel explores the complexities of a marriage and family relationships. Jane and Oliver Jones’s marriage hits a crisis point and Jane leaves with their teenage daughter Rebecca on a cross country trip to visit her brother Joley’s apple farm. Oliver, a renowned oceanographer, taps into his searching skills to follow his wife. What follows is an exploration of marriage and love, told through the viewpoints of multiple characters.
“Emotionally charged, gripping, dramatic and poignant novel about the true meaning of love and security!”
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Authored by Lacy Challe
She’s is an avid reader who lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and dog. She has loved reading and writing about books since childhood, and eventually earned degrees in Comparative Literature and Library and Information Science. She loves analyzing books and providing recommendations to family and friends.