A Spark of Lightby Published 02 Oct 2018
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The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.
After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.
But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester disguised as a patient, who now stands in the cross hairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.
Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.
Jodi Picoult—one of the most fearless writers of our time—tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation . . . and, hopefully, understanding.
"A Spark of Light" Reviews
Author Jodi Picoult is no stranger to controversy, and it seems somehow fitting that she should tackle the contentious issue of a woman's right to abortion in this, her latest offering. Set in a women's reproductive health services clinic, now becoming a rare commodity, the story kick starts with a bang with a desperate gunman shooting at those within the clinic and holding them hostage. The narrative then proceeds to go back in time to the start of the day for the wide cast of characters present and the multiple reasons for their presence at the clinic. This includes clinic staff, pro life people, the desperate gunman's tale, and clinic clients. Outside, Hugh McElroy is the police hostage negotiator, alarmed to discover his 15 year old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic with her aunt, his sister.
Picoult takes an incredibly balanced approach, showcasing her impressive research skills on this incendiary topic of reproductive rights. She presents the science, the legal, religious, cultural norms, state differences, national and international angles, not to mention the issue of race, making this a novel that is thought provoking and prime material for book club discussions. She captures the intensity of the feelings people have on the topic, both pro life and those who uphold a woman's right to choose, exposing the misinformation peddled in the arguments. This is a story with plenty of tension and suspense, and the unexpected, which I found both gripping and timely, given what is happening in the world today. As such, this is a novel that I recommend highly. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
It’s been years since I’ve read Picoult. It’s been so long that I can’t recall which of her books I did read. This one begins at an abortion/women’s health clinic during a hostage crisis. Told in reverse chronological order, the story examines the abortion issue from both sides by presenting characters who wind up in a hostage situation for a multitude of reasons. Some are there to terminate or to prevent a pregnancy. Some are there to perform the procedure or to assist in other ways. Others are there to protest. Each has their own story, including the gunman (and his family) and the negotiator (and his family). This hot button issue is handled fairly and the research seems to be solid but I didn’t care for the reverse order of the story which minimizes rather than enhances this novel and you see the big reveal coming from a mile away.
Oh my god you guys, I actually read this book months ago and I’m still thinking about it today. As soon as I received a copy I dropped everything and started it and it totally blew me away. It has her trademark hard hitting subject matter and deeply moving storyline and she rips her storylines straight from the headlines like no ones else does. If you read one book I recommended this year I urge you to make it this one, I feel like we can all learn something profound from this book.
The structure of this was amazing, it’s told in reverse order which always sounds super confusing but if it’s done well then it’s a little bit of magic and if anyone has the magic touch it’s Picoult. I don’t know how else to describe her writing other than to say it’s beautiful and even poetic at times and she’s writing about this god awful tragedy and still hope and beauty shines through.
Abortion is arguably one of the hottest of hot button topics of all time and I so admire how Picoult examines the issue from every single angle you can think of, and also from some you would never think of yourself. She forces you to consider your own personal values and morals while doing so sensitively and with so much respect. I don’t usually expect straight up fiction novels to be twisty but she also manages to throw a knock down punch (or two) that made me gasp in disbelief. This book was total perfection in my eyes and I cannot wait to see where she takes me next.
Spark of Light in three words: Profound, Emotional and Incredible.
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult is a fictional title that tackles the very tough subject of abortion so it may not be for everyone. The story is one that doesn’t take sides but instead tries to shed light all around in a suspenseful setting. The format is also a bit different and unusual in the fact that the author chose to start at the end and go backward from there counting back the hours and one horrific day in the small community clinic.
Now, for me I very much appreciate what the author tried to do with bringing this subject matter to light in a truly thought provoking read. However I’m not sure I was a fan of the format of this story when all was said in done. To be honest the first chapter or the first “hour” of the story beginning in the late afternoon was like being dropped into a warzone and a bit hard to follow when you know nothing about the characters or story and are just trying to grasp the plot.
On the other hand after the first couple of hours of the day counted backward and I began to get to know the situation and characters the author’s wonderful writing really shined through. The entire middle of the book is where the meat of the story lies that will make one think and care about what is going on and the characters themselves shine through. At this point i shows why I like to give each book a chance and not give up early because at that point my rating obviously went up.
When all was said and done with the book however I began to question again how I felt about where the story had gone, the format, the subject overall etc. I have to admit the end was a bit of a let down and felt it sort of fizzled after the fiery beginning and I wasn’t quite sure I found everything believable at that point. So weighing all of my feelings throughout this books I decided to go with a 3.5 rating on this one with the ups and downs but a solid story altogether.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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Jodi Picoult is one of those reliable authors that manage to keep you turning the pages with every one of their books that you read. I was really excited to read her new one A Spark of Light because I know she always delivers the goods! A book that grabs at both sides of the story, sucks you in and brings in all the feels! This time it is about abortion.
Hugh is a police negotiator called in to talk to a gunman after he opens fire at an abortion clinic. Things get very complicated for Hugh when he discovers that his 15 year-old daughter is in the clinic with his sister. Can he get this gunman to spare the hostages? Why did he open fire?
As always, characters and human relationships are front and centre in this tale. Each character has a unique story, encouraging the reader to empathise with them no matter what their viewpoint. The women in the clinic, the police negotiator and the gunman himself all have a story to delve into and she does it so well! Although I struggled to empathise with the gunman, I still found myself getting sucked into his story.
I loved the way this story was written. It starts at the end and then makes it's way back one chapter at a time. I thought I would get confused, but Picoult is a master at what she does. It flowed cleverly and seamlessly and there was no confusion at all.
The one thing that I didn't like about this book were the twists. I saw EVERY single one of them coming. Certain things were put into place earlier in the novel that I found to make things really obvious, so when the big reveals occurred I was left feeling slightly underwhelmed. However, hopefully that's just me, and others reading will not have that problem.
The subject matter is controversial of course, and like the majority of her books - she makes you think. And I certainly did ponder what my personal views were, not so much on being for or against abortion, but more about the technicalities of when is a baby actually a baby, and where exactly does that line between the rights of the unborn and the rights of the woman meet. As always, Picoult has done her research. A LOT of research. There was a particularly graphic medical procedure scene in there that unexpectedly took my breath away. It was done as tastefully as it could be, and it certainly made me ponder and re-evaluate my own beliefs. A lot of emotions were brought up, but it was worth it!
Would I recommend A Spark of Light?
Yes, if you enjoyed any of her other books I am sure you will appreciate this one. And if you haven't, it is certainly a good place to begin!
*I received an uncorrected proof of A Spark of Light from Allen and Unwin and was not obligated to do a review.
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