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A Spark of Light’s Back-of-Book Description
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.
I think I may have read every book Jodi Picoult has written (except her newest one). So when I saw A Spark of Light at my local bookstore I bought it right away – even though I knew it would sit on my shelf for a while.
But I finally felt I was ready for one of her hard-hitting social commentary dramas. That’s her typical style and that’s exactly what you get with this book. She covers two topics with A Spark of Light – gun violence and abortion, mostly abortion. Fair warning – if those topics are sensitive to you, be prepared.
Now, I know what you might be thinking; you have your opinions on these matters and you’re not interested in hearing hers. Well, don’t worry!
The book is written from several different points of view and within those, there are different opinions on the issue of abortion. There’s no agenda pushing (that I noticed) and in fact, I thought it was really interesting to be reading about and sympathizing with a character who strongly believes the opposite of me. So often in life, we just shout our opinions without really listening to the other side. But taking the time to read about a character living the other side is quieter and more moving, in my opinion.
So often in life, we just shout our opinions without really listening to the other side. But taking the time to read about a character living the other side is quieter and more moving, in my opinion. Click To Tweet
Speaking of characters, Picoult does a great job of creating fully rounded, fleshed out people that you begin to care about. Their dialogue feels natural and their actions feel real. You want to keep learning more about them and see what they do as the story goes on.
The story going on, however, is an element all its own. It is written with the end at the beginning and then moves backward in time. One chapter will be 5 pm, the next 4 pm, the next 3 pm, and so on. At first, I didn’t love this aspect. However, the further I got in the book, the more I used to it and it felt kind of intriguing to see how it unfolded in this way.
One of the best things about Jodi Picoult’s writing in all books, and especially in A Spark of Light is that she has a real talent for writing these simple sentences that feel so deep and meaningful. You’re just reading along and suddenly you feel like you’ve unearthed some novel idea about the world and humanity. It’s really lovely.
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Favorite Quotes from A Spark of Light
“Active listening can get you a lot father than spouting off.”
“It felt like the stamp of a passport when you reach your own country, and realized that the only reason you’d traveled was to remember the feeling of home.”
“She wondered if the only way any of us can find what we stand for is by first locating what we stand against.”
“We are all drowning slowly in the tide of our opinions, oblivious that we are taking on water every time we open our mouths.”
“To live was always a conditional verb.”
“Violence, from one angle, looked like mercy from another.”
“But he hoped empathy would spread, an invasive weed of compassion.”
“It just went to show you: there was no right way to do the wrong thing.”
“Maybe it was possible to walk in another person’s shoes, without trampling his steps.”
4 stars from me! A Spark of Light was really thought-provoking and emotional to read. It was a well-written story with a lot of great characters. I just wish she had written a longer ending to wrap up how everyone went on with their lives after the fact. I felt a little unsatisfied after I was finished because of the wondering. But maybe that’s the mark of a good book – it leaves you wanting more of the characters?
Either way – I enjoyed it and I would recommend it to basically everyone in the world! It’s an important topic no matter what side of it you personally support.
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