27 October 2018

Review: A SPARK OF LIGHT, Jodi Picoult

  • this edition published 2018 Allen & Unwin Australia
  • ISBN 978-1-76011-051-2
  • 369 pages
  • author website: www.jodipicoult.com 
Synopsis (author website)

 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 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 cross hairs 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.

My Take

Probably not really a crime fiction title, or at the very boundaries of the genre.

This is so obviously a book with a message. It comes through the narration and the characters as well as in the "Author's Note", the bibliography, and the blurb.
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.

I found the narrative structure a challenge and was tempted at times to read the chapters in reverse order so that I could get the events in the right order. In the long run I continued to read in the order as published. The structure did give the author considerable flexibility in the presentation of background detail on every character that we met.

There were a couple of twists to the story that I was not expecting and they were cleverly done. A worthwhile read.

During the 10 year life of this blog I have not reviewed a novel by this author even though she has written a massive number of books - that is why I have used the "new to me" label.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Jodi Picoult, 52 , is the bestselling author of twenty-four novels: Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), Harvesting the Heart (1994), Picture Perfect (1995), Mercy (1996), The Pact (1998), Keeping Faith (1999), Plain Truth (2000), Salem Falls (2001), Perfect Match (2002), Second Glance (2003), My Sister's Keeper (2004), Vanishing Acts (2005), The Tenth Circle (2006), Nineteen Minutes (2007), Change of Heart (2008), Handle With Care (2009), House Rules (2010), Sing You Home (2011), Lone Wolf (2012), The Storyteller (2013), Leaving Time (2014), and the YA novels Between The Lines (2012), and Off The Page (2015), co-written with her daughter Samantha van Leer. Her last ten novels including her highly acclaimed novel, Small Great Things (2016), have debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Her twenty-fifth novel, A Spark of Light, will be published October, 2018.

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