Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Quick Pick book review: A Spark of Light, by Jodi Picoult

  • Opening lines: 5pm. The center squatted on the corner of Juniper and Montfort behind a wrought-iron gate, like an old bulldog used to guarding its territory. At one point, there had been many like it in Mississippi—nondescript, unassuming buildings where services were provided and needs were met. Then came the restrictions that were designed to make these places go away: the halls had to be wide enough to accommodate two passing gurneys; any clinic where that wasn't the case had to shut down or spend thousands on reconstruction. The doctors had to have admitting privileges at local hospitals—even though most were from out of state and couldn't secure them—or the clinics where they practiced risked closing, too. One by one the clinics shuttered their windows and boarded up their doors. Now, the Center was a unicorn - a small rectangle of structure painted a fluorescent, flagrant orange, like a flag to those who had traveled hundreds of miles to find it. It was the color of safety; the color of warning. It said: I'm here if you need me. It said, Do what you want to me; I'm not going.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I'm a huge Jodi Picoult fan so I was super excited to snag at NetGalley copy of this a few months before its release date.
  • And what's this book about?
  • 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.

    Jodi Picoult—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.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys books, pretty much. Fans of Picoult's previous books will enjoy it. It's also very timely considering our country's current position on birth control and abortions.
    • Favorite paragraph: The point of establishing a relationship with a hostage taker was to make sure that you were the only source of information, and to give you the time to find out critical information of your own. What kind of hostage taker were you facing? What had precipitated the standoff, the shoot-out, the point of no return? You might start trying to build a relationship with innocuous conversation about sports, weather, TV. You'd gradually find out his likes and dislikes, what mattered to him. Did he love his kids? His wife? His mom? Why?

      If you could find the
      why, you could determine what could be done to disarm the situation.
      • Something to know: The chronology goes backwards, which is a little hard to comprehend at first. However, we still learn about the characters, but by going backwards in the story line, if that makes sense.
      • What I would have changed: I wasn't a huge fan of the backwards chronology. I still enjoyed the book but a little less than others I have read by her. However—SEMI-SPOILER—there's a big twist at the end which I did not see coming, which was interesting.
      • Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
      • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon - this book will be in stores and online on October 2, 2018.
      *Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

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