23 Best Jodi Picoult Books to Feed Your Need for Drama

Discover our guide with the best Jodi Picoult books to keep you on the edge of your seat while making you feel like you’re a part of each character’s family. 

Once you pick up one of Picoult’s novels, you’ll find yourself engrossed in realistic, flawed characters who keep you flying through the novel, turning page after page. Many of Picoult’s novels focus on a procedural drama or moral issue, which often puts family members at odds with each other. Unafraid to tackle tough subjects, Picoult is known for her ability to develop storylines that touch on fertility issues, the Holocaust, human rights, school shootings, and other hard-to-tackle topics. If you enjoy Picoult’s writing style, you’ll love our round-up of essays about drama.

American fiction author Jodi Picoult has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. In addition to her bestselling novels, Picoult has also written five issues of Wonder Woman for DC comics. The author’s work is celebrated by readers and reviewers worldwide. According to the Boston Globe, “Picoult is a skilled wordsmith, and she beautifully creates situations that not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us.”

Best Jodi Picoult Books Ranked

1. My Sister’s Keeper

My Sister's Keeper
My Sister’s Keeper details an unusual relationship between Anna and Kate Fitzgerald

My Sister’s Keeper follows the story of sisters Anna and Kate Fitzgerald. Kate is living with leukemia, and her parents order her sister to donate a kidney to keep Kate alive. Anna files for medical emancipation, refusing to donate, which, surprisingly, is in accordance with her sister’s wishes. Kate is tired of suffering and wants to be able to pass away on her terms. The novel will keep you on the edge of your seat, learning more about how family dynamics work in life-and-death situations that seem to occur again and again.

“Normal, in our house, is like a blanket too short for a bed–sometimes it covers you just fine, and other times it leaves you cold and shaking; and worst of all, you never know which of the two it’s going to be.”

Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

Get it on Amazon, click here.

2. Nineteen Minutes

Nineteen Minutes
School shootings have become all too common, Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes brutally details how such incidents occur

In Nineteen Minutes, Picoult follows the story of Peter Houghton, a 17-year-old high schooler who has dealt with bullying for years. Even his best friend left him behind for the popular crowd, leaving Peter utterly alone. While Peter stays calm for years, he eventually is pushed to the point of violence. Throughout the story, readers get to know the shooter, the key witness, and the judge, understanding the effects of a school shooting from various perspectives. Readers are left to consider the humanity of all affected by the incident and the effect that bullying can have on a young person’s psyche.

“Everyone thinks you make mistakes when you’re young. But I don’t think we make any fewer when we’re grown up.”

Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

Get it on Amazon, click here

3. The Pact

The Pact
The Pact is a gripping story that will make you question how well you know those closest to you

The Pact follows the stories of the Harte and Gold famines, neighbors who have spent decades next to one another. Eventually, high-school-aged Chris and Emily fall in love, which was no surprise to their parents after watching them grow up together. The families are hit with the shock of their lives when Emily is found dead; the result of an apparent suicide pact with Chris. The young man finds himself on trial for murder. Both parents work to discover the truth of what actually happened and who is really to blame for Emily’s murder.

“She was all the things I wasn’t. And I was all the things she wasn’t. She could paint circles around anyone; I couldn’t even draw a straight line. She was never into sports; I’ve always been. Her hand, it fits mine.”

Jodi Picoult, The Pact

Get it on Amazon, click here.

4. Plain Truth

Plain Truth
Picoult’s 2001 novel Plain Truth tells the story of a dead infant found on an Amish farm

After a brief investigation, 18-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman, is accused of killing her newborn. A relative of Katie’s reaches out to Ellie Hathaway, a respected attorney and distant relative of the Fisher family. Ellie agrees to accept the case and must stay on the farm with Katie for the time preceding the trial. Plain Truth details the intricacies of Amish culture while delving into the difficulties of family relationships through the lens of extreme grief.

“She wanted him to tell her that when you love someone so hard and so fierce, it was all right to do things that you knew were wrong.”

Jodi Picoult, Plain Truth

Get it on Amazon, click here.

5. Salem Falls

Salem Falls
Salem Falls follows Jack St. Bride, a former teacher and soccer coach accused of inappropriate behavior with a student

Following a public trial, Jack St. Bride is sentenced to eight months in prison. After doing his time, he leaves town and moves to Salem Falls, where he takes a job as a dishwasher owned by Addie Peabody. Soon, Jack and Addie begin a relationship. Just when Jack thinks he finally has a new lease on life, his past comes back to haunt him and begins to destroy his new life in Salem.

“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”

Jodi Picoult, Salem Falls

Get it on Amazon, click here.

6. Leaving Time

Leaving Time
Leaving Time explores themes of grief, family, and perseverance

Leaving Time follows Jenna Metcalf as she searches for the truth about her mother, who mysteriously disappeared when Jenna was a young child. Refusing to believe that her mother could have given her up without a fight, she studied her mother’s work (research on grieving elephants) to find a clue into what could have happened. As Jenna continues her search, she begins to work with a psychic and a detective, and together, the trio searches for the truth, one clue at a time. 

“The moral of this story is that sometimes, you can attempt to make all the difference in the world, and it still is like trying to stem the tide with a sieve. The moral of this story is that no matter how much we try, no matter how much we want it … some stories just don’t have a happy ending.”

Jodi Picoult, Leaving Time

Get it on Amazon, click here.

7. Small Great Things

Small Great Things
Racism, white supremacy, and healthcare policy are all explored in Small Great Things

Labor and delivery nurse Ruth Jefferson faces an impossible dilemma in Picoult’s 2016 novel, Small Great Things. Ruth is African-American and encounters white supremacist patients who refuse to let her care for their baby. The next day, the baby needs CPR and Ruth is the only one in the room. Unsure of what to do, she hesitates before performing the life-saving procedure on the baby and is charged with a crime. White public defender Kennedy McQuarrie is assigned to Ruth’s case. The pair must learn to trust one another and work together to fight for justice.

“If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s that friendship is a smoke screen. The people you think are solid turn out to be mirrors and light; and then you look down and realize there are others you took for granted, those who are your foundation.”

Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things

Get it on Amazon, click here.

8. House Rules

House Rules
House Rules shows how criminal accusations can affect a family

House Rules follows Jacob Hunt, a teen diagnosed with ASD, who is obsessed with police work and finds himself at the center of a murder case. Jacob’s mother is shocked by the continued lack of understanding that the community shows her son and his brother feels that the accusations are further proof of what he’s felt all along; that Jacob’s existence makes life more difficult for the entire family. You’ll be kept on the edge of your seat as you learn whether Jacob’s struggles to read social cues will leave the community believing he’s guilty; and how his mother works to maintain a sense of normalcy for her family.

“When someone dies, it feels like the hole in your gum when a tooth falls out. You can chew, you can eat, you have plenty of other teeth, but your tongue keeps going back to that empty place, where all the nerves are still a little raw.”

Jodi Picoult, House Rules

Get it on Amazon, click here.

9. Handle with Care

Handle with Care
Handle with Care explores just how far a parent has to go to provide excellent care

Handle with Care shares the story of Charlotte, mother to Willow, a child born with disabilities. Charlotte struggles to figure out how to pay for her daughter’s medical expenses when she discovers a potential solution; suing the doctor who delivered her daughter, as she failed to inform Charlotte of her daughter’s disability.

A few issues with Charlotte’s plan: the OB/GYN in question is her best friend, and she struggles with the idea that she’d have to say she would have chosen abortion if she knew about Willow’s disability. Grappling with issues of morality, the United States healthcare system, and friendship, Handle with Care creates relatable characters who evoke empathy.

“Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.”

Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care

Get it on Amazon, click here.

10. Sing You Home

Sing You Home
Sing You Home tells a story of loss, love, and religion

Sing You Home digs deep into topics such as LGBTQ+ issues, infertility, and religion. The novel starts with the story of Zoe, a woman who hopes to become a mother after a decade of infertility struggles. After finally becoming pregnant, she loses her baby at seven months, and her marriage crumbles. She begins to focus on work, where she meets Vanessa and, in an unexpected twist of events, falls in love.

Zoe wants to use the embryos from her fertility struggles with her husband to get pregnant again. Her husband, however, has joined a church that preaches against homosexuality, and he makes it his personal mission to stop Zoe and Vanessa from moving forward with their dream of starting a family.

“You know someone’s right for you when the things they don’t have to say are even more important than the things they do.”

Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home

Get it on Amazon, click here.

11. The Storyteller

The Storyteller
The Storyteller leaves readers wondering whether forgiveness should ever be removed

The Storyteller follows unlikely friends Sage Singer and Josef Weber, a baker and an older man who reveals himself as a WWII Nazi guard. As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, Sage feels terribly conflicted with Josef and asks a favor: for her to end his life. After delving into Josef’s past, Sage realizes that he’s telling the truth about his history, and she’s left trying to decide whether she should leave the situation alone, provide him with the mercy he’s asking for, or work with law enforcement to provide him with the war criminal trial he deserves.

“Inside each of us is a monster; inside each of us is a saint. The real question is which one we nurture the most, which one will smite the other.”

Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller

Get it on Amazon, click here.

12. The Tenth Circle

The Tenth Circle
The Tenth Circle transports readers from the Alaskan bush to a horrific suburban dilemma

As the only white child in an Inuit community, Daniel Stone struggled with teasing and bullying throughout his youth. He fought back against his peers, developing a reputation for crime, and he eventually worked his way out of the area and fell in love. He worked to channel his anger to live the white-picket-fence lifestyle. When his daughter is the victim of a heinous crime, he finds his rage returning. You’ll love how The Tenth Circle digs into an internal war between good and evil and how you’ll wonder if the two are interchangeable in the case of Stone getting revenge on the person who took advantage of his daughter.

“Relationships always sounded so physically painful: you fell in love, you broke a heart, you lost your head. Was it any wonder that people came through the experience with battle scars?”

Jodi Picoult, The Tenth Circle

Get it on Amazon, click here.

13. Second Glance

Second Glance
Picoult’s Second Glance takes readers into the supernatural realm

Second Glance dives into the world of the paranormal. Set in a small town in Vermont, the novel digs into a little-known part of U.S. history: a eugenics project in the state in the early 20th century. Second Glance follows Ross Wakeman, a ghost hunter who, at his core, is searching for his deceased fiancée. While searching for signs of paranormal activity following plans for a strip mall to cover an ancient American Indian burial ground, he meets Lia–who he feels begins to bring him back to life. Readers will grapple with the difference between truth and fiction as Ross struggles to decide whether he’ll ever be able to love again.

“What makes you walk past thirty-thousand people without a second glance, and then you look at the thirty-thousandth-and-first person and know you’ll never take your eyes off her again?”

Jodi Picoult, Second Glance

Get it on Amazon, click here.

14. Keeping Faith

Keeping Faith
Keeping Faith provokes deep questions about family, spirituality, and love

1999’s Keeping Faith takes readers on the journey of a custody battle between Mariah and Colin White; a recently divorced couple whose daughter, Faith, seems to be able to see God. While Colin initially gives full custody of Faith to Mariah, he becomes contentious once he learns of Faith’s ability to perform miracles. Mariah loses custody of Faith, and the mother and the daughter suffer greatly. Faith is admitted to the hospital and faces what seems to be certain death but reunification with her mother sparks her back to life and leaves her to question whether she’ll be able to see God again.

“They say that there are moments that open up your life like a walnut cracked, that change your point of view so that you never look at things the same way again.”

Jodi Picoult, Keeping Faith

Get it on Amazon, click here.

15. Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf
In Lone Wolf, Picoult perfectly explores life, death, and nature themes

Lone Wolf follows the Warren family after their patriarch, Luke, sustains a traumatic brain injury resulting in a coma following a car accident. Luke’s daughter, Cara, was also in the car and must now navigate the family’s affairs, as her father is unlikely to wake up. Her brother, Edward, has been estranged from their father but comes home immediately to help his sister. The two are at odds with how to handle the situation, with Edward wanting to let him go and Cara wanting to hold on for a miracle. 

“The real power of a wolf isn’t in its fearsome jaws, which can clench with fifteen hundred pounds of pressure per square inch. The real power of a wolf is having that strength, and knowing when not to use it.”

Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf

Get it on Amazon, click here.

16. Change of Heart

Change of Heart
Picoult’s 2008 novel explores issues of spirituality, redemption, and loss

Change of Heart tells the story of Jack, his wife June, and their daughter Elizabeth. A drunk driver kills Jack, and June eventually falls in love with Kurt, the police officer who responded to the family’s accident. Eventually, June becomes pregnant, and she and Kurt hire a man (Shay Boone) to help them create an addition to their home. Elizabeth and Kurt are found dead, and Shay is the only suspect. Shay is eventually sentenced to the death penalty, and June works to find the horrifying reason why Shay killed the stepfather and his stepdaughter.

“In the space between yes and no, there’s a lifetime. It’s the difference between the path you walk and the one you leave behind; it’s the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are; it’s the legroom for the lies you’ll tell yourself in the future.”

Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart

Get it on Amazon, click here.

17. Perfect Match

Perfect Match
In Perfect Match, Picoult explores crime, family, and what it means to be a mother

In 2003’s Perfect Match, attorney Nina Frost discovers that her five-year-old son was sexually assaulted. Her years in the courtroom have made it clear that sex crimes are rarely punished with the severity the crime deserves, and she makes it her mission to get justice for her son. Nina and her husband, Caleb, feel helpless initially but then decide to do whatever it takes to ensure the man who hurt her son never hurts another child again. You’ll find yourself rooting for the Frost family every step of the way, no matter what they do to make justice a reality for Nathaniel.

“You are only as invincible as your smallest weakness, and those are tiny indeed – the length of a sleeping baby’s eyelash, the span of a child’s hand. Life turns on a dime, and – it turns out – so does one’s conscience.”

Jodi Picoult, Perfect Match

Get it on Amazon, click here.

18. Mercy

Mercy
Mercy tackles tough subjects, including illness and assisted suicide

In Mercy, Massachusetts, police chief Cameron McDonald is put between a rock and a hard place when his cousin, Jamie, tells him that he assisted his dying wife with euthanasia. Feeling he has no choice, the chief arrests his cousin, who must testify why he thought he did the right thing. Digging into themes of loyalty, grace, and forgiveness, you’ll find it tough to pinpoint exactly who is doing the right thing in the eyes of the law and whether it’s the same thing as doing the right thing when considering compassion and love.

“You know it’s never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It’s always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride.”

Jodi Picoult, Mercy

Get it on Amazon, click here.

19. Harvesting the Heart

Harvesting the Heart
Harvesting Hearts explores how demands placed on the matriarch of the family can be all-consuming

Harvesting the Heart follows young mother Paige O’Toole as she works to navigate the ins and outs of motherhood while struggling with the fact that her mother left the family home before she started kindergarten. O’Toole struggles to separate the pain from her past from her hope for the future and to feel good enough to be a mother to her young child. Harvesting the Heart creates multi-faceted, relatable and realistic characters, making it easy for readers to imagine sitting on the couch with their best friends, listening to their struggles and triumphs regarding raising a family.

“I knew that somewhere God was laughing. He had taken the other half of my heart, the one person who knew me better than I knew myself, and He had done what nothing else could do. By bringing us together, He had set into motion the one thing that could tear us apart.”

Jodi Picoult, Harvesting the Heart

Get it on Amazon, click here.

20. Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect
Picture Perfect describes the difficulty of escaping domestic abuse

In Picture Perfect, Cassie Barrett, an anthropologist, is the victim of domestic abuse from her Hollywood heartthrob husband, Alex Rivers. Cassie wakes up in a cemetery and cannot remember how she got there, or anything else about her life. Returning to her California mansion, Cassie can see that her life seems perfect on the surface, but she begins to remember the terrible abuse she’s suffered at the hands of her husband. After noticing a positive pregnancy test in the bathroom, Cassie realizes she left to protect her baby. The cycle of domestic abuse is clear in Picture Perfect, and you’ll find yourself wondering whether Cassie can free herself from Alex.

“There was, really, nothing you could use as a blueprint for your life, except your past. There was no starting over. There was only picking up the pieces someone had left behind.”

Jodi Picoult, Picture Perfect

Get it on Amazon, click here

21. Songs of the Humpback Whale

Songs of the Humpback Whale
Songs of the Humpback Whale explains what it takes to truly start over

In Songs of the Humpback Whale, Jane Jones realizes that she must leave her husband. Her daughter, Rebecca, joins her in her journey across the country. The two flee to a Massachusetts apple orchard. When Jane’s husband becomes obsessed with tracking the pair down, Jane begins a relationship with Sam, the orchard owner. Reader, be warned: the characters you’ll grow to love in Songs of the Humpback Whale may not get the happy ending you feel they deserve.

“You can run but you can’t hide… but I can try. I feel air catch in my lungs and I get a cramp in my side and this pain, this wonderful physical pain that I can place, reminds me that after all I am still alive. ”

Jodi Picoult, Songs of the Humpback Whale

Get it on Amazon, click here.

22. A Spark of Light

A Spark of Light
The love between a father and daughter is explored in Picoult’s 2018 novel, A Spark of Light

A Spark of Light details a shooting at a women’s clinic in the Deep South. A police negotiator learns that his daughter is inside the clinic and begins to work with the shooter to negotiate for her release, as well as the release of other hostages. Conversations between the police negotiator and the shooter are eye-opening as they discover they believe they’re doing the right thing for their daughters. Multiple points of view allow you to see the story from various perspectives. Picoult’s detailed exploration of each character’s reasoning for their actions makes it hard to decide what constitutes justice.

“We are all drowning slowly in the tide of our opinions, oblivious that we are taking on water every time we open our mouths.”

Jodi Picoult, A Spark of Light

Get it on Amazon, click here

23. The Book of Two Ways

The Book of Two Ways
The Book of Two Ways is a captivating novel that explores near-death experiences, love and loss

Buckle up for The Book of Two Ways, where Protagonist Dawn Edelstein is on a flight gearing up for a crash landing. In what may be her final moments, Dawn realizes she’s not thinking about her husband; she’s thinking of a man named Wyatt, whom she met over a decade prior. When she survives the crash, Dawn is left with the choice of whether to return to her family in Boston or travel across the world to discover whether she could have a life with Wyatt.

“I once read that every story is a love story. Love of a person, a country, a way of life. Which means, of course, that all tragedies are about losing what you love.”

Jodi Picoult, The Book of Two Ways

Get it on Amazon, click here.

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Author

  • Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.