A Spark of Light

A Spark of Light

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...

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Title:A Spark of Light
Author:Jodi Picoult
Rating:
Edition Language:English

A Spark of Light Reviews

  • Melissa

    Isn’t that the truth? Regardless of topic, circumstance or person—and whether you have the guts or gumption to share it—deep down, we

    have an opinion about

    . Each of us find ourselves walking through life, in our own versions of reality, shaped by past experiences, mistakes, upbringing, religion and oftentimes age. There are those who hold steadfast in their

    Isn’t that the truth? Regardless of topic, circumstance or person—and whether you have the guts or gumption to share it—deep down, we

    have an opinion about

    . Each of us find ourselves walking through life, in our own versions of reality, shaped by past experiences, mistakes, upbringing, religion and oftentimes age. There are those who hold steadfast in their beliefs, some who waver after hearing a compelling argument and others that toe the rudimentary line of hypocrisy. Where will you stand after reading this mighty piece of compelling fiction? Is it powerful enough to spark change?

    Before you duck your head and try to sneak away quietly or raise your hackles in preparation to defend your stance on abortion, just know, that’s not really what this book is about. I see the big takeaway as being the acknowledgment that there are always multiple points of view in

    argument; even if you don’t agree with them. Regardless of what side you find yourself on—pro-life or pro-choice—this story will expose you to BOTH. It’s a conversation starter, in the least.

    Will

    make you examine your own stance on abortion and

    you hold those beliefs so tight?—you bet. In typical Picoult fashion, she doesn’t play it safe. In fact, she’s

    and unrelenting in her examination of each and every angle of abortion. She’s also

    Her body of work is thought-provoking and feels incredibly important on some level; even more so given our current political climate. I guess you could say, Ms. Picoult

    me with this one.

    Not only was I impressed by her approach to the topic itself, but by the cast of characters she created to tell the story and the structure in which she chose to tell it. Told completely in reverse, things could have gone one of two ways. Fortunately for me, I landed on the side of appreciation. Picoult telling the story in this manner allowed me to be an active participant—piecing together some aspects of the storyline that might have been less impactful if told in the typical sequence.

    It’s a different experience starting with the end—well most of it—and working your way back to the beginning to uncover how each character came to be at the The Center the very morning a crazed gunman opens fire. The timeline might lead you believe you know exactly how the story is going to unfold, but don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions. Ms. Picoult has a few well-played tricks up her sleeve.

    More than anything else, it was the cast I found myself completely enamored with. Well, the majority of them.

    Topping that list was Dr. Louie. A man raised Catholic in the south, he was a lone flower blooming brightly in a fire-scorched forest. Somehow, he managed to look past his own religious beliefs to fill a void few others would—simply because he felt in his heart it was the

    thing to do. I wholly admired his sacrifice, compassion, and his use of “

    ”. Reading in the

    that his character closely resembles an actual doctor, one Picoult spent time with during her research, made my heart skip a beat. To know there are superheroes of his sort out in the world right now, left me with some semblance of hope.

    Second up was Hugh and his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren. Growing up motherless—especially when she makes the choice to leave you behind—probably isn’t easy, but Hugh did he damndest to make sure Wren never felt that absence. Their bond over stars and space spoke to me on some entirely different level. The reality is though, there are some things as a teenage girl that you just can’t voice to your father.

    And I would be remiss if my love-obsessed heart didn’t mention Izzy. I can’t say much, for fear of giving anything away, but her naivety in thinking things could never work out with her fiancé because they came from different backgrounds was gut-wrenching. Color me smitten with their storyline.

    I guess by now, I’ve made my point—this was a FANTASTIC experience for

    . I’ve lost count of how many of Ms. Picoult’s books I’ve read over the years, but one thing I know with certainty,

    has earned the top spot. I’m hopeful this story will spark even more discussion about what it means for women, in this day and age, to have their reproductive rights so tightly controlled. To not have a say when it comes to your own body and health not only feels unfair, but wrong.

  • Susanne Strong

    In “A Spark of Light,” several w

    In “A Spark of Light,” several women find themselves in a bad situation. They are either there by choice or by need. The end result however, is the same. A gunman has arrived at “The Center” (a women’s reproductive health clinic), and he has a bone to pick.

    Hugh is the hostage negotiator and he is trying to calm George Godfrey, the gunman down, while also trying to keep it together himself. Why, you ask? Both Hugh’s teenage daughter, Wren and his sister Bex, are inside and he doesn’t know why. Will it become a choice they live to regret?

    Janine is a Pro-Lifer. Whatever her reasons were for going to the clinic got thrown out the window when Joy, a woman who just had an abortion, needed help. Can Janine and Joy put their views aside and help each other during this trying time?

    Dr. Ward is the Clinic OB-GYN. He is also a Pro-Lifer, who has made it his life’s work to help women get abortions safely, when the alternative is unthinkable. Now it is his life that hangs in the balance.

    Izzy is a nurse at the Clinic. She is doing her best to calm everyone down in the face extreme danger.

    Beth is underage. In Mississippi, having an abortion under the age of Eighteen without the consent of a parent or a legal guardian is Illegal. Beth had a choice to make and now she is paying the ultimate price.

    “A Spark of Light” is one of Jodi Picoult's most challenging and controversial books to date. Abortion is a very hot topic in the United States. You can’t turn on the news, flip open a newspaper or search the internet without the topic cropping up. Everyone I know feels passionately about this subject, I know I do. That said, in this book, Jodi Picoult does a brilliant job of keeping her thoughts neutral, making it such that you feel for each person and each party (whether it’s Pro-Life or Pro-Choice) and have more compassion for everyone involved and that is one heck of a feat. Ms. Picoult accomplished the same achievement in one of my favorite novels of hers, “Small Great Things” and that speaks volumes.

    Going back in time left me more curious, scared and wondering, heart beating faster, teeth chattering. Wren, Hugh, Joy and Beth!! These are characters in whom I became fully invested. Simply put, my heart ached each time theirs did.

    This is a novel which I highly recommend, for the skillful writing, the way in which Ms. Picoult is able to write about challenging subjects without taking a side and for the brilliant characters whose hearts beat in tune with mine.

    A huge thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and Jodi Picoult for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

    Published on NetGalley, Goodreads, Amazon and Twitter on 10.14.18.

  • Angela M

    3.5 rounded up.

    Jodie Picoult is a prolific writer, and if you’ve read any of her books, you know she confronts head on some tough, controversial and always relevant issues. This one couldn’t be more timely with this predominantly conservative Supreme Court we will more than likely have, who could possibly reverse Roe v Wade. We see mass shootings and hostage situations too frequently on the news. This book takes us inside a hostage situation, where people are shot inside an women’s clinic that p

    3.5 rounded up.

    Jodie Picoult is a prolific writer, and if you’ve read any of her books, you know she confronts head on some tough, controversial and always relevant issues. This one couldn’t be more timely with this predominantly conservative Supreme Court we will more than likely have, who could possibly reverse Roe v Wade. We see mass shootings and hostage situations too frequently on the news. This book takes us inside a hostage situation, where people are shot inside an women’s clinic that provides abortion services. Picoult has done a terrific job of reflecting both pro-choice and pro-life points of view. Most people who read this book will probably have their own opinion on the issue, and what happens here most likely isn’t going to change that. At the very least by giving us characters with different perspectives, those who want their babies, those who don’t, or those who do, but just can’t because of circumstances, she gives us a chance to see things differently from where we may stand.

    I’m not going to focus at all on the plot, but rather on the number of things that I liked about this story. I liked how the hostages, some of whom didn’t know each other connected. I liked how Picoult moves rapidly from character to character and gives us each of their stories. In this cast of characters, my favorite was Louie, the abortion doctor, who was pro-life but wanted those who wanted an abortion to have it safely. He remembers his mother. It made me think about how easily we judge people without knowing what they have experienced. It made me think about the victims of these types of crimes and of how little we know them except for a few things they tell us in the news.

    What didn’t quite work for me was the structure of the book which reads backwards in time and I’m not really sure why. It didn’t add anything to the story for me. It felt repetitive at times. There were a couple of relationship twists which I guessed, but ultimately did made sense for the story and were realistic. Picoult could have been preachy, but she wasn’t. She has written a thought provoking story, one that encourages dialogue. In the end what I liked about the book outweighed what I didn’t like so I will round up it to 4 stars.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine through NetGalley.

  • Paromjit

    Author Jodi Picoult is no stranger to controversy, and it seems somehow fitting that she should tackle the contentious issue of a woman's right to abortion in this, her latest offering. Set in a women's reproductive health services clinic, now becoming a rare commodity, the story kick starts with a bang with a desperate gunman shooting at those within the clinic and holding them hostage. The narrative then proceeds to go back in time to the start of the day for the wide cast of characters presen

    Author Jodi Picoult is no stranger to controversy, and it seems somehow fitting that she should tackle the contentious issue of a woman's right to abortion in this, her latest offering. Set in a women's reproductive health services clinic, now becoming a rare commodity, the story kick starts with a bang with a desperate gunman shooting at those within the clinic and holding them hostage. The narrative then proceeds to go back in time to the start of the day for the wide cast of characters present and the multiple reasons for their presence at the clinic. This includes clinic staff, pro life people, the desperate gunman's tale, and clinic clients. Outside, Hugh McElroy is the police hostage negotiator, alarmed to discover his 15 year old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic with her aunt, his sister.

    Picoult takes an incredibly balanced approach, showcasing her impressive research skills on this incendiary topic of reproductive rights. She presents the science, the legal, religious, cultural norms, state differences, national and international angles, not to mention the issue of race, making this a novel that is thought provoking and prime material for book club discussions. She captures the intensity of the feelings people have on the topic, both pro life and those who uphold a woman's right to choose, exposing the misinformation peddled in the arguments. This is a story with plenty of tension and suspense, and the unexpected, which I found both gripping and timely, given what is happening in the world today. As such, this is a novel that I recommend highly. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.

  • Emily May

    I got a really pleasant surprise a couple of years ago when I picked up

    on a whim and discovered that Picoult is actually much more vicious and hard-hitting than I'd expected. Her covers look like chick-lit, but it seems she takes very current, often controversial, topics and examines them through the eyes of complex and relatable characters.

    However, I think this book

    I got a really pleasant surprise a couple of years ago when I picked up

    on a whim and discovered that Picoult is actually much more vicious and hard-hitting than I'd expected. Her covers look like chick-lit, but it seems she takes very current, often controversial, topics and examines them through the eyes of complex and relatable characters.

    However, I think this book doesn't quite hit the emotions it's aiming for. The novel is so focused on the issue and providing lots of information that it often becomes

    . At times,

    reads almost like an "Abortion Myths Dispelled" pamphlet. I still want to give it three stars for what I'm tempted to call an

    or even

    read, but I don't think it dives much deeper than the surface.

    Picoult tells the story of a gunman barging into Missisippi's only abortion clinic and taking the doctors and patients hostage. We soon discover that the shooter is a man called George whose daughter recently had an abortion. The story takes place over a single day and is told in reverse, moving through the perspectives of many characters who all have different circumstances and agendas.

    Picoult's characters are quick to point out inaccuracies in the arguments of anti-choice protestors but, overall, the perspectives are relatively balanced. There are no monsters on either side and the author carefully explores why each individual believes what they believe.

    Dr. Louie Ward (based on real-life abortion provider,

    ) is a Christian who offers abortions because he believes it is his religious duty to offer compassion instead of judgement to women; Joy is at the clinic because she just had an abortion; young Wren is seeking contraception; Janine is an anti-abortion activist who is there to infiltrate the clinic. This is just a sample of the characters. Outside, the hostage negotiator in charge is Wren's dad, and elsewhere a girl called Beth faces murder charges for illegally terminating her own pregnancy. The characters are diverse in race, wealth, and sexuality.

    Lots of viewpoints are covered, as are the laws that make Mississippi the most restrictive state on abortion. The dialogue and internal monologues of the characters feel somewhat didactic, though perhaps that was unavoidable. Many conversations exist to educate the reader on the realities, laws and myths of abortion, and honestly it feels like it. Though the characters' situations all seem likely to evoke sympathy, the book itself is too lesson-driven to offer much in the way of emotional attachment.

    The unusual timeline of the novel also didn't really work for me. I'm not sure I understand it's purpose. By beginning at the end, we know most of what will happen, and the few details intended to surprise us are not actually that surprising.

    It's undeniably an

    on a hot topic, going so far as to consider the relationship between abortion politics and race politics. It's unfortunate that, though interesting, the book seemed to hold me at a distance from the characters-- perhaps the author's decision to try to equally portray such opposing viewpoints made it impossible to ever really get close to either one.

    If you do read the book, be sure to read the author's note. Some of the best conclusions on the abortion argument are in it.

    CW: Racism; abortion; gun violence; mentions of rape and incest.

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  • Debra

    "Today, Wren McElroy thought, was not a good day to die."

    This book begins with a hostage situation at the local Center. The Center is a place for women (and teens) to go and get birth control, have gynecological examinations, and obtain abortions. It is known as a woman's reproductive health services clinic. Naturally there are those who do not want such a clinic in their community and there are those who are thankful that it is there.

    One day a man bursts into the clinic and begins firing. Anoth

    "Today, Wren McElroy thought, was not a good day to die."

    This book begins with a hostage situation at the local Center. The Center is a place for women (and teens) to go and get birth control, have gynecological examinations, and obtain abortions. It is known as a woman's reproductive health services clinic. Naturally there are those who do not want such a clinic in their community and there are those who are thankful that it is there.

    One day a man bursts into the clinic and begins firing. Another man, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator is called to the scene. He has been getting a flurry of texts from his daughter and learns that she is inside the health clinic and is one of the hostages. He also learns that his sister is with Wren and has been injured.

    Wren and her aunt are not the only hostages. There are others and through the story we get to learn about each character, his/her past and why they are in the clinic that day. They either work at the Center or they are there for services. We are given each of their perspectives. This book is told in reverse. It starts with the hostage situation and goes back in time to the beginning of the day. For some this reverse story telling may work, for others, it may not. There is also a story-line being told in this book apart from the hostage, in a different location, but is connected to the hostage situation. I wish I would have seen even more of this character in the book. I really felt for her plight and wanted to learn what ultimately happened to her. I have fingers crossed that possibly Picoult will write about a book about her and her plight.

    I requested this book without even knowing what the subject matter of this book would be, I didn't care as I enjoy Jodi Picoult. She never shy's away from controversial or uncomfortable subject matter and always does her homework. Some books I enjoy more than others. This was certainly the case with this book. What I appreciated the most was that this book was not preachy. The reader is never pushed to be pro-life or pro-choice. No matter where readers stand on abortion, I believe both sides will appreciate this book. As I said, it is not preachy and does not ask the reader to pick a side. In the Author's note she gives statistics and cites laws. I also enjoyed how she gave back story on the characters and his/her reason's for being at the clinic that day.

    I am teetering back and forth between a 3 and a 3.5 star rating for this book. I will admit, I wasn't a fan of how this book was told in reverse. I might have enjoyed it more if it was told from beginning to end instead of end to beginning. What worked for me in this book were the various voices as I stated above. Plus, there is a little secret revealed at the end which leads to an aha moment. I appreciate that she took on such important and timely subject matter. Regardless of where one stands on the issues, I think she did a very good job of telling the story.

    Thank you to Random House Publishing - Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Read all my reviews at

  • Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)

    ***NOW AVAILABLE***

    I am either hit or miss with this author and for me this was a miss. I knew from the blurb, which is incredibly extensive, that there will be a shooting at a women’s health clinic where abortions were being performed. I did not know however that this book was going to be entirely about abortions. This was not particularly a problem for me but here is why I didn’t really enjoy the book.

    First of all the book is told in reverse order so we already know the ending after the first

    ***NOW AVAILABLE***

    I am either hit or miss with this author and for me this was a miss. I knew from the blurb, which is incredibly extensive, that there will be a shooting at a women’s health clinic where abortions were being performed. I did not know however that this book was going to be entirely about abortions. This was not particularly a problem for me but here is why I didn’t really enjoy the book.

    First of all the book is told in reverse order so we already know the ending after the first chapter. For me this took away any mystery or intensity that I would have felt had the book been written from beginning to end. I have read other books written in this fashion but this one just didn’t flow right for me. It felt choppy and actually I got bored with it, that’s my honest opinion.

    The book then continues introducing characters and why they are at the clinic that day. There were a large number of characters and it took a few chapters to keep them all straight. There is the owner of the clinic, the nurse, the doctor, a woman that has just had an abortion performed and other women that are in the waiting room. I think a smaller cast of characters would have been better, particularly since at the ending I felt as though I didn’t know really know how the day ended for many of the characters. I felt there were too many loose threads.

    I kept waiting for the twist at the end that other reviewers had written about. When it was revealed I found it to be relevant of course but not really believable. I can’t say why because that would be a spoiler, but I don’t think it would be possible for a woman to keep this secret for so many years nor why she would feel she had to.

    I did care for many of the characters and how hard their decisions were for them. I feel that a woman’s body is her own and I don’t have the right to tell her what to do with it. So I can honestly say that I am pro choice. However, that said, Ms. Picoult chose to portray all of the protesters as religious zealots, uninformed and uncaring. I’m sure that just as there are many reasons for women to be deciding on an abortion there are equally many reasons why people may protest or be against abortions and it is their right to protest, legally and not abusively. I don’t want to judge those people either.

    In the author’s notes Ms. Picoult states “I interviewed pro-life advocates. They were not religious zealots; they were men and women who were speaking from a place of deep personal conviction. All of them were appalled by acts of violence committed in the name of unborn children”. However in the novel she did not describe any of the protestors in this manner, I kept wondering why?

    Reviewing this book as a work of fiction is difficult for me. I expected more of a story which would keep me interested, flow well and could be informative. I gave it a 3* because I still believe Ms. Picoult is a wonderful writer and there is some good writing here. Based on my honest feelings however I would not recommend this book.

    I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

  • Kylie D

    I tried to like this book, I really did, but I found it to be preachy and boring as batshit. I kept finding excuses to put it down and not get back to it, which is unlike me. The reverse chronology of the chapters I found to be disjointed and annoying, and because of this I couldn't connect with any of the characters. And a graphic abortion scene? I mean really? Does anybody need to read that? I know this is Jodi Picoult and it will probably be a mega seller, but it just didn't do it for me.

    My t

    I tried to like this book, I really did, but I found it to be preachy and boring as batshit. I kept finding excuses to put it down and not get back to it, which is unlike me. The reverse chronology of the chapters I found to be disjointed and annoying, and because of this I couldn't connect with any of the characters. And a graphic abortion scene? I mean really? Does anybody need to read that? I know this is Jodi Picoult and it will probably be a mega seller, but it just didn't do it for me.

    My thanks to Allen & Unwin for an uncorrected proof to read and review. The opinions are entirely my own.

  • Elyse Walters

    Audiobook...

    Narrated by Bahni Turpin, and Jodi Picoult

    Favorite line: from Jodi Picoult...( reading this part herself), in the author’s notes:

    “Laws are black and white;

    lives of women are shades of gray”.

    I also agree with this statement:

    “I don’t think we, as a society will ever see eye to eye on each other’s point of views....

    but it’s important to have conversations and talk with each other”.

    My reasons for only 2 stars:

    .... I didn’t think much of the storytelling of

    this topic. It felt cold and

    Audiobook...

    Narrated by Bahni Turpin, and Jodi Picoult

    Favorite line: from Jodi Picoult...( reading this part herself), in the author’s notes:

    “Laws are black and white;

    lives of women are shades of gray”.

    I also agree with this statement:

    “I don’t think we, as a society will ever see eye to eye on each other’s point of views....

    but it’s important to have conversations and talk with each other”.

    My reasons for only 2 stars:

    .... I didn’t think much of the storytelling of

    this topic. It felt cold and controlled to me....even manipulative... too crafted.. lacking sincere emotional connection with the characters that

    we should have been caring about.

    I had reserved this Audiobook from the library and I received it the day it was first released. I knew I wasn’t highly excited to read it: more curious. I never requested an advance copy from

    Netgalley- because I suspected this entire topic would feel like a no-win satisfying experience. I was hoping to be wrong. I wasn’t. ( for me).

    I’m a female who isn’t

    blind to what’s going on regarding this issue. I listen to the news. I’ve had many conversations about women’s choices - the government- etc. I know many women who have had abortions. I haven’t.... but had I been raped, or too poor, or too young, I would have.

    I didn’t have the stomach for this book.... neither the drama or the parts that dragged.

    I wasn’t a fan of the writing.

    At times descriptions felt pretentious. Other times childish.

    I especially didn’t feel this book worked

    as an audiobook.

    I’m not a fan of books - or a fan of myself, when I ‘press on’....while my inner voice isn’t peaceful - in partnership with the author’s purpose. I had too many debates in my own head about a fiction book on this issue.

    I wasn’t feeling

    aligned with the storyline.

    I’m not blaming Jodi,

    I’ve enjoyed at least 3 or 4 of her other books...

    but I didn’t enjoy this novel enough to recommend it.

    My inner voice was too critical throughout.

    The most important part of this book is found in the Author’s notes: ‘factual’ statistics.... which anyone could read in 10 minutes while they’re in a bookstore or library.

    I’m guessing I’m a rare bird - read other reviews-

    Other readers may have found this book extraordinary and powerful. You may too!

    Honestly... I’m so glad I’ve finished this one.

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