- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (October 2, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345544986
- ISBN-13: 978-0345544988
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 585 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Spark of Light: A Novel Hardcover – October 2, 2018
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An Amazon Best Book of October 2018: Jodi Picoult again tackles a controversial topic with remarkable dexterity in her latest novel, A Spark of Light. Working backwards in time from a shooting in an abortion clinic, Picoult uses multiple narratives to peel back the layers of events, circumstances, and emotions that led up to the tragic incident that kicked off the book. Both sides of the abortion debate are represented and perspectives shift — in both directions—once abortion is no longer a theoretical question. There are tough moments in the book; the characters face heartbreaking choices, self-doubt, and fear, but Picoult treats her subject and story with great care and respect. A Spark of Light is incredibly timely. Picoult’s latest is a thought provoking read that will inspire conversation and appeal to both the author’s existing fans and newcomers to her work. —Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review
“Picoult at her fearless best . . . Timely, balanced and certain to inspire debate.”—The Washington Post
“This is Jodi Picoult at her best: tackling an emotional hot-button issue and putting a human face on it.”—People
“Told backward and hour by hour, Jodi Picoult’s compelling narrative deftly explores controversial social issues.”—Us Weekly
“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)
“The author presents the white-knuckled narrative in a reverse-chronological order. The effect is mesmerizing, as Picoult establishes moments in the overarching event, before revealing how they came to be.”—Houston Chronicle
“Picoult delivers another riveting yarn . . . in this carefully crafted, utterly gripping tale.”—Booklist (starred review)
“An important and thoughtful read that is perfect for book clubs looking for deep conversations.”—PopSugar
“Novels such as this . . . are necessary”—Kirkus Reviews
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Using a literary device that sometimes works, she begins with the denouement and works backward to the beginning of a pivotal day in the lives of several women and a doctor who performs abortions. The story begins when a man enters The Center and begins shooting and taking hostages. From there, Picoult goes hour-by-hour back to daybreak, introducing each character. By the time she reaches breakfast, I have repeatedly heard the same stories.
George, the shooter, is a pro-life zealot who is avenging his daughter, presumably because she had difficulty during an abortion. Wren, the motherless teenage daughter of a police officer, is seeking birth control. Bex, Wren’s aunt, is her mother figure. Hugh, father of Wren, is the hostage negotiator. Izzy, a nurse, is contemplating an abortion because she, who grew up destitute, does not want to tie down her wealthy boyfriend. Olive, a lesbian neuroscientist, has an unspecified medical issue. Joy, who grew up in foster care, is pregnant as the result of an affair with a married judge. Vonita is the motherly owner of The Center. Louie Ward is the physician. Janine, a pro-life advocate, pretends to be pregnant in an effort to demonstrate that The Center advocates “killing babies”. Beth, a teenager, is lying in a hospital bed, having been charged with murder of her unborn child.
Every character is a stereotype; every plot line is cliche. The reverse timeline doesn’t work for me. Over and over, the characters tell the same stories, and I became terminally bored by them, not to mention unsympathetic. Needless to say, I don’t expect resolution of this highly charged and emotional debate in one work of fiction, but I hoped that Jodi Picoult would tell a more interesting story. What a disappointment.
PS If I had any doubt about how well researched this book is, the author's note at the end blew that out of the water. Wow.