A Spark of Light

A Spark of Light

A Novel

Book - 2018
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * The author of Small Great Things returns with a powerful and provocative new novel about ordinary lives that intersect during a heart-stopping crisis.

"Picoult at her fearless best . . . Timely, balanced and certain to inspire debate."-- The Washington Post

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 to 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 crosshairs 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.

One of the most fearless writers of our time, Jodi Picoult 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.

Praise for A Spark of Light

"This is Jodi Picoult at her best: tackling an emotional hot-button issue and putting a human face on it." ― People

"Thoroughly realistic storytelling . . . Picoult has achieved what politicians across the spectrum have not been able to: humanized a hot-button issue. Excellent for book clubs, this should also be considered for discussions in critical thinking and political debate." ― Library Journal (starred review)
Publisher: New York, NY : Ballantine Books, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780345544988
Branch Call Number: PICOULT
Characteristics: 369 pages ; 25 cm


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Jun 16, 2019

It was okay, but not great. I had to keep turning back to remember how the characters became pregnant and to keep them straight. The story bogged down in the middle making me want to skip to the ending. The backwards format was frustrating at times. I’m pro-life and gained insight to the plight of those facing unwanted pregnancies. The ending was disappointing compared to the big buildup. There were loose ends.

May 30, 2019

I have lost interest in reading "her" novels. The pace at which they are churned out, I believe she must have a team of writers!

May 17, 2019

Having read many of Picoult's books, this one was a big disappointment. The backward time travel was didn't contribute to the essence of the subject. Abortion, especially in the age of Trump and the Republicans, is a topic that ignites strong feelings on both sides. It's also a topic that lends itself to the 'Will" of men who are incapable of empathizing with the women who are affected. I do not believe in abortion in the third trimester or even less than that. Nevertheless, "walk a mile in my shoes", says the young girl or woman who has been manipulated into having sex and thereby becoming pregnant! Or, raped by a stranger or family member- incest. I wonder how many men will bear the guilt and brunt of these tragic occurrences?
Think of it! Someone pregnant who does not or cannot give birth. Where does she now turn in this male-dominated society as seen in the U.S. The only choice was, back in the mid- to late-20th century was to find a 'doctor' to do the procedure (now illegal); or, to do a self-abortion which usually ended in death. Now, there are two fatalities: the mother and the child! God forbid the results these men, who thrive on being superior to women, will achieve.

May 07, 2019

Info most of us know. Difficult and individual decisions.
Too many characters. Not much negotiating to move the plot along
by the time I gave up

JCLCherylMY Apr 20, 2019

One of Picoult's best novels. Told backwards in time, this novel tells the story of several individuals being held by an active shooter in a women's clinic in the South. Never one to shy away from difficult topics, Picoult skillfully navigates the subject matter of abortion and how it affects each character.

JCLLisaH Mar 21, 2019

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult is a novel that grabs your attention and draws you in with the topic of abortion and all the controversy that surrounds it. At an abortion clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, one day all present are taken hostage and the reader slowly learns how all the random people that are there that day came to be at the clinic and how their past lives have intersected and made them who they are.

This book reads a bit unconventionally in that the first chapter begins at “5:00 pm”, the second chapter begins at “4:00 pm”, taking the reader back in time all the way to “8:00 am”. The final chapter concludes at “6:00 pm”. When I started reading the book, at first I found it somewhat confusing as to who the characters were and their backgrounds, since you are taken right into a hostage standoff, in which some characters are injured and others are dead on the floor. As I continued reading, the story unfolds in an interesting way with the characters becoming more developed with details from each’s past. This in turn caused me to want to learn more about what made them who they are, why they felt the way they did about abortion, and what brought them to the clinic on this fateful day.

Picoult was very thorough in her research for this novel. She creates characters that take all points of view on the topic of abortion, uncovering the many social and ethical issues that many people feel today. The choice for the unusual book title is revealed in chapter “8:00 am”, with a scientific discovery that explains why “It stood to reason that both life and death began with a spark of light”. A Spark of Light, like many of her others, is another very thought provoking and powerful novel from Picoult.

Mar 06, 2019

As many of the negative comments state, I did not like this one. Telling the story backwards led to too many holes in the plot and sporadic character development. I did manage to finish it but there were so many loose ends left untied. This was my least favourite of the 10+ Jodi novels I have read to date.

Mar 04, 2019

This book intrigued me - it's not about a topic I would consciously choose to read. It's also written backwards, starting just before the end and reliving a horrific event in reverse, step by step. I read Jodi Picoult every now and then - her subjects are often centered on difficult social issues, but the value of that is that it gets one to think from another perspective.

There are many comments to the effect that this makes for difficult reading, but I think what's brilliant about it is that it forces the reader to spiral back in time to get into the minds of all the characters and fully appreciate why each of them came to be together in that place at that time. The effect would not have been as powerful had we started out with full knowledge in chronological order.

And you do not know until the very end who pulled the trigger and why!

Feb 09, 2019

Didn't like this book. I have read almost all of her books and this one was just plain annoying. She should stop trying to make political statements with her books.

Feb 08, 2019

Jodi Picoult addresses difficult topics head-on in her books. Follow the lives of the protesters, patients, and staff in a Women's Clinic from the initiation of an active shooter incident backwards in time to early in the morning prior to their arrival. Picoult develops each character and their story as she winds back the clock revealing the reasons for their decisions and their motivation. Recommend staring this early in the day as you will not be able to put this down once started.

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