Sunday, 30 September 2018

A Spark of Light

Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Ballantine Books (Penguin Random House)
First Published: October 2, 2018
First Line: "The center squatted on the corner of Juniper and Montfort behind a wrought-iron gate, like an old bulldog used to guarding its territory".

Book Description from GoodReadsThe 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.

My Rating: 3 stars

In her latest book, A Spark of Light, Jodi Picoult focuses on a hostage situation in an abortion clinic. Using a large number of characters, each with varying connections to both sides of the abortion issue, Picoult has written a well-researched book on a timely, controversial and important topic.

I have to be honest - Jodi Picoult is an author who is hit and miss for me. Some of her books (The Storyteller, Small Great Things) were ah-mazing and others (My Sister's Keeper …) fell flat for me. Unfortunately, A Spark of Light falls into the latter category.

Picoult gives a well-rounded and well-researched story about the abortion issue and I appreciated that she doesn't push her readers in any specific direction. Unfortunately, it was how the story was told that greatly influenced my feelings for the book. The story is told in reverse order going back one hour in time for every chapter. I strongly disliked this method of telling the story. It was confusing, lacked tension because you already know how things will pan out, disrupted the flow of the story telling and the characters are unable to develop. I just didn't care for it.

When you add in the multiple points of view to the confusing way of telling the story and my inability to connect with the characters, I found this book underwhelming. There is a twist towards the end but it wasn't enough to up my rating and I think many readers will be able to see it coming.

Overall, this would make a great book club selection with its timely and contentious issues. And while this isn't one of my favourite Picoult books, her in depth research about the issues she addresses, as well as her confidence to tackle big issues will continue to make her an author I'm eager to read.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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