#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
“Told backward and hour by hour, Jodi Picoult’s compelling narrative deftly explores controversial social issues.”—Us Weekly
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 polarizing arguments surrounding women’s reproductive rights. Structured in reverse, the book covers a daylong hostage standoff 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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I like the fact that it is told in reverse order. There are still mysteries to solved and questions to be answered as the book progresses. As for the subject matter (abortion) the lesson I take away is that no matter how different one’s view, we share much more important common human experiences.
A spark Of Light
I liked the story, but it flip-flopped back and forth so much I was getting ill. I actually quit before the end.
Difficult subject to cover
Abortion is always a hot button topic and I feel the author handled it very well.
However, I hated the backward timeline! It was confusing and annoying. When you reached one of the “hours” it told you something you already knew from the beginning only in more detail.
Not my favorite of her books.