Jodi Picoult never shied away from controversial topics and her latest book is no exception. A Spark of Light could not have come out at a better time. Mass shootings are in the news constantly and abortion rights are talked about all the time as well.
Picoult combined the two and throws her readers in immediately. I really enjoyed how we get to read the book in a reversed timeline. A Spark of Light begins almost at the end of a hostage situation in the only abortion clinic left in the state of Mississippi. From there Picoult takes us back in time to the start of the day. In a reversed 24 way, we get to experience what happened to all the characters every hour. Despite going back in time, we only learn more about the characters and their reasons for being in the clinic at the time the shooter gets in.
The story is told from ten different perspectives. There is the shooter, George Goddard. George is a deeply religious man and single father, who’s daughter had an abortion and he blames the clinic for it. Then there is Hugh McElroy, the negotiator for the police. Hugh has a personal stake in this hostage situation. His daughter, Wren, and older sister, Bex, are in the clinic and he desperately wants to save their lives. Next to Wren and Bex, the hostages are Dr. Ward, a nurse called Izzy, Joy, a young woman who just had an abortion, Janine, a pro-life activist, and Olive, an older woman who gets her check-ups at the clinic. And then there is the perspective of Beth, a young girl, who performed an abortion without medical assistance and ended up in police custody.
Abortions are obviously a difficult topic and one that everyone has an opinion on. What I enjoyed about A Spark Of Light is that every opinion you can imagine finds a place in the book and is discussed. Picoult manages to give each side enough space and never favours one over the other. She even shows how religious beliefs and the believe of the right to choose can co-exist as depicted in Dr. Ward. I really liked the fact that over the course of the book we get to know more about the characters and find out there motivation. My favourite characters were probably Joy, Janine and Izzy. I loved their character arcs the most over the entire narrative, especially the bond that forms between Joy and Janine.
What bothered me a little bit, was the ending. It was just so abrupt. The first hour depicted in the book ended on a big cliffhanger and the epilogue does solve it, however, there are several other storylines with other characters that were left up in the air, in a way, that would have interested me more than the few characters we got to hear from in the epilogue. Honestly, I probably would have enjoyed the book more without the epilogue. Open endings can be very good and it wouldn’t really have felt like one as the last chapter is the morning before the shooting even started. Still loved the book, though, and would one hundred percent recommend reading it.
Have you read A Spark of Light? What did you think? Do you enjoy reading about controversial topics? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
* ad: This book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Ballatine Books and Netgalley!
The book cover I used as title image comes from the publisher.
Title: A Spark of Light
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Ballatine Books
Publishing Date (first publication): 02-10-2018