A Spark of Light, by Jodi Picoult
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Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Length: 354 pages
Times Read: Once
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.
What I Liked: I don’t tend to read a ton of adult books. I just don’t usually connect as well to them as YA. But Jodi Picoult has been at the top of my auto-buy list for such a long time that I was so thrilled to be able to review her latest offering early. She’s had a few iffy ones in the past few years for me, but last year’s Small Great Things was a total hit (seriously if you haven’t read it please do and then let’s chat) and I had high hopes for this one. It did not disappoint.
♥ The hostage situation/negotiator was something I’ve seen in movies, but haven’t read much about. Seeing how a hostage negotiator works behind the scenes was super interesting, and how they interact with the gunman.
♥ Now, this may be a shock to you (just kidding this should in no way be a shock to you), but I’m an extreme liberal, and it was a real mind f*ck to be in the head of an anti-choicer (friendly reminder that pro-life does not exist, you are either pro or anti choice). Even though I never agreed with her, I kind of could see how she got there? I could sort of understand her motivations? It was super unpleasant, much like reading Ellen Hopkins’ latest, People Kill People was, but important as well. Change doesn’t occur unless you’re willing to look at someone with a different opinion as a real person with valid thoughts and feelings, and getting you into their head is an effective way to do that.
♥ The reverse order of the story was kind of confusing, but stick with it because it makes sense in the end.
What I Didn’t: Basically the problem is this: I expect too much from Jodi’s twists now. There were several at the end of this book, I saw none of them coming, and I still just thought “oh, okay” instead of “OMG!!!!” I expect her to have insane twists that I don’t see coming, but I’m waiting for them every time so it’s impossible to ever really be surprised. It’s unfair, but that’s where I am with her books now.
⊗ I had a hard time keeping people straight, but I think this was just a me problem. Everyone was unique and described well.
Favorite Quotes: “When you are used to fending for yourself, being taken care of is a drug.”