A Spark of Light

A Spark of Light

A Novel

eBook - 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: 2018
ISBN: 9780345544995
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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K_ROK Sep 25, 2019

I found that the story being told backwards was something I had to get used to and the middle did feel a little bogged down however I can appreciate the author's attempt to bring attention to the important societal topic of abortion in the United States. At the very least this book can ignite some deep discourse among its readers.

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kellydelancy
Sep 14, 2019

quick read-abortion

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c4599s
Aug 03, 2019

I have read several of her other books and enjoyed very much. This one was so disappointing to me. It was difficult to follow and keep track of the characters - bounces all over the place. Very slow reading. I struggled to read to the end. I would not recommend to others.

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abbyz2000
Jul 30, 2019

So disappointed in this book. Slow moving and told in a complicated way. I couldn't keep track of characters. I gave up about 25% of the way in. Don't even care about hearing resolution.

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DorisWaggoner
Jun 22, 2019

Critical issues in this novel include the fact that the Center is the only place in the state of Mississippi to get a legal abortion, and laws require that abortion is a two-day process. The first day requires filling out multiple forms, proof that the woman is pregnant, above the legal age limit for the woman, and below the legal gestational age of her fetus. The day ends with an ultrasound. All efforts are, by law, made to talk the woman out of having the abortion, and the doctor is required to tell her things he knows aren't quite true about pregnancy and the procedure. On days abortions are done, protestors line the way to the clinic, taunting everyone who comes in, offering "blessing bags" through the chain link fence, including hand knit booties and baby caps, and flyers with more lies about what the procedure involves, and inflated numbers of people who would adopt babies. The characters are well rounded and seem real, and most are probably much like those who really do show up at such clinics. Not all are there for abortions, including Wren, 15, who wants birth control. Her father is the police hostage negotiator, which adds greatly to the tension. Her aunt Bex comes in with her when the nun who normally serves as an escort past the protestors doesn't arrive. Another is Olive, a middle aged lesbian who's come for years to see a particular nurse for her normal health care, now has metastatic cancer. Dr. Louie Ward, who's never married because of the danger he knows he faces because of his job, flies in the night before when it's his turn. Janine, calling herself Fiona, is a spy of a protest group, there to gather information that can be used to close down the Center. At first it confused me that the book is written backwards, though each chapter is clearly labeled with the time. By the end, it makes sense that she's written it that way.In the late morning, an angry gunman bursts into the clinic, and shoots his first victim soon after. The structure allows us to know her, and others who are shot, when if the book was written chronologically, we'd never know about them and their motivations. Picoult makes a real effort to be even handed, to make clear the gunman's reasons for being there. He's not bad, or a madman, and his reason makes some sense. We also see why the spy is there. But it's also clear which side Picoult is on. Her note at the end makes that clear as well, though it is "just the facts, ma'am.". It's an important book on an important, timely subject.

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kdegr
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.

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molly
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!

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Eil_1
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.

2
2303tes
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.

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