I’ve always had the feeling that Jodi Picoult is a love-her-or-hate-her kind of author. For years, I’ve been able to fall in to her books knowing to some degree what I’m in for, as she looks at various ‘hot button’ issues in most of her novels.
A Spark of Light is one such book, counting backwards in time through the hours of a standoff in a Women’s Reproductive Health Center. We follow a few stories through this book:
Wren, who has missed school with her aunt Bex to come to the Center
Olive, who is an older woman who told her partner she was just popping in for a check-up
Janine, a pro-life protester undercover as a patient
Joy, who is there for an abortion
Louie, the doctor who performs a service for these women
Hugh, Wren’s father who is the police negotiator called to the scene
George, the gunman who is seeking revenge on those who ‘took his granddaughter away’
and Beth, a girl who has been detained for trying to terminate her own pregnancy
As you can see, there is a pretty big cast in A Spark of Light (the above doesn’t quite list them all, but it hits the main points). It was a bit overwhelming trying to keep track of everyone’s stories at times, but they’re woven together well by Picoult who truly is one of the masters of this art.
I must admit, I didn’t love the time counting backwards piece in this book. While it made for an interesting look at the things that brought all these people to be in the Center when the gunman burst in, it also made the book feel a bit more stilted than the other Picoult books I’ve read and loved. I think this format meant it took me a bit longer to get invested in the story than I was expecting, too.
Tackling the topic of abortion and pro-choice/pro-life viewpoints, Picoult handles the balance between these visions pretty well. She says the aim of the book is to inspire debate and conversation, and hopefully an understanding between the two views. Picoult herself suggests that this is probably an issue that the world will never fully agree on, but that it’s important to view both sides of the argument – and I think this belief does shine through in her writing or A Spark of Light.
Rating: Overall, I did enjoy this book and it made for an interesting read. However, it wasn’t my favourite Picoult novel.
AU Release Date: 2 October 2018
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
What are your thoughts on Jodi Picoult’s novels? Have you read A Spark of Light?
Until next time,
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.