A Spark of Light: A Novel

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Told with Picoult’s usual style of multiple narrators, A Spark of Light weaves together the stories of patients and doctors at a women’s reproductive health clinic whose lives are turned upside down when a gunman bursts in and opens fire. One of these patients is a fifteen-year-old girl named Wren, whose father is the police hostage negotiator; another is a young woman who has come seeking an abortion; and one is a pro-life protester in disguise as a patient. Through their various perspectives and backgrounds, each hostage will share this fateful day learning from one another, and even from the gunman himself, who has his own story to tell. The blending of these stories results in one overarching contemplative narrative about one of the most controversial and complicated issues of our generation.

Picoult takes a hot-button issue and does an effective job of crafting a well-balanced novel with the goal of raising awareness and understanding about both sides rather than singing the praises of one or the other. The emotional impact of the story itself, however, leaves a little to be desired. Though Picoult generally does well with the multiple narrative structure, A Spark of Light fell a bit flat in this regard. Part of this may be a result of the heavy focus on the issues and backstories rather than the characters themselves; because we don’t get to know the characters very intimately outside of their connection to women’s health, it leaves removes some of the emotion and leaves the story feeling dry at times. It’s not the same heart-wrenching and emotionally jarring kind of Jodi Picoult story we all know and love; it’s a bit didactic-feeling, but at the same time, very well-researched, and an important contribution to the issue at hand. Picoult seeks to tell the story from both perspectives in order to facilitate more understanding about the issue. She details more on this in her author’s note at the end, which is definitely worth a read even if you don’t choose to read the novel itself.

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Author Jodi Picoult
Star Count 3.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher Ballantine Books
Publish Date 2018-Oct-02
ISBN 9780345544988
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2018
Category Modern Literature


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