A Spark of Light
When Vonita opened the doors of the Center that morning, she had no idea that it would be for the last time.
Wren has missed school to come to the Center, the sole surviving women's reproductive health clinic in the state, chaperoned by her aunt, Bex. Olive told Peg she was just coming for a check-up. Janine is undercover, a pro-life protester disguised as a patient. Joy needs to terminate her pregnancy. Louie is there to perform a service for these women, not in spite of his faith, but because of it.
When a desperate and distraught gunman bursts into the Center, opening fire and taking everyone hostage, Hugh McElroy is the police negotiator called to the scene. He has no idea that his fifteen-year-old daughter is inside.
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Race, rape, school shootings. Jodi Picoult has never shied away from sensitive subjects. With A Spark of Light, the novelist wades fearlessly into the polarising arguments surrounding women’s reproductive rights. Structured in reverse, the book covers a daylong hostage stand-off at a Mississippi women’s health clinic. Picoult examines the incident from multiple angles—the patients and doctors inside, as well as the shooter and police negotiator—and unobtrusively intersperses real-life statistics and court cases into her story. All this makes her novel a perceptive and impactful meditation on an emotionally charged topic.
Drama abounds in Picoult's latest issue-driven novel (following Small Great Things) in which a hostage crisis in a women's health center/abortion clinic provides a look at a volatile subject. George Goddard, a lone gunman seeking revenge for his daughter's abortion, busts into the clinic in Jackson, Miss., killing and wounding several staff and patients. He holds a handful of them hostage, including Wren and Bex, the 15-year-old daughter and adult sister of Hugh McElroy, the police hostage negotiator assigned to the crisis. Meanwhile, Beth, a teenager in a hospital in Oxford, Miss., whose attempts to have a legal abortion were thwarted, takes medication to abort her 16-week-old fetus and nearly dies from blood loss. She is brought to a hospital and her life is saved, but the state prosecutor's office accuses her of murder upon finding out the reasons for her condition. Picoult's extensive research shines throughout, but the book's reverse chronological structure interferes with the complicated back stories, which include the gunman's reasons for going on a rampage; a doctor's path to performing abortions; why a pro-life believer goes undercover to the clinic to obtain damaging evidence; and the relationship between Wren, Bex, and Hugh. Nevertheless, this is a powerful story that brings clarity to the history of abortion and investigates the voices on both sides of the issue.
I loved this book for the story behind each character and how their lives intertwined. As always an interesting controversial topic, abortion. It raises many challenges we as women face.