The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things returns with a powerful and provocative new novel about ordinary lives that intersect during a heart-stopping crisis. Read more...
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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things returns with a powerful and provocative new novel about ordinary lives that intersect during a heart-stopping crisis. 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 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. Advance praise for A Spark of Light "Picoult delivers another riveting yarn . . . in this carefully crafted, utterly gripping tale."--Booklist (starred review)
A Spark of Light
Following her incisive novel Small Great Things (2016), which delved into the white supremacist movement, Jodi Picoult takes on the explosive topic of abortion rights in A Spark of Light.
Picoult sets her story in Jackson, Mississippi—all the action taking place over one long day at the Center, a women’s clinic for those who had “run out of time and had run out of choices.” Picoult begins her riveting saga at the end of the story, when George Goddard—a distraught, anti-abortion father whose teenage daughter recently had an abortion at the Center—storms inside, fires several shots and takes an unknown number of hostages. Hostage negotiator Hugh McElroy has been called to the scene to confront George.
With her latest novel, Jodi Picoult takes on another explosive, timely issue: abortion rights in America.
Picoult then moves backward in time, hour by hour, gradually filling in the details of those who came to the Center that day and why they came. She approaches this divisive issue from all sides—not blaming or condoning, but shining a perceptive light into the lives of those now hoping to survive the hostage situation.
Izzy, a nurse, struggles with the dilemma of whether or not to tell her boyfriend about her newly discovered pregnancy. She’s risen from a childhood of poverty and doesn’t want to rely on him, “the prince from the entitled family.” After the shooting, Izzy tends to the leg wound suffered by Dr. Ward, whose own mother died from an illegal abortion. Dr. Ward regularly travels between four states to provide abortions for women living where almost all such clinics have closed.
Joy completed her abortion before the shooting starts—and although she wanted the procedure, she’s still in mourning for what she’s lost. She lived in foster care for 10 years and didn’t want another child to go through the same miserable experience.
Janine is at the Center faking a pregnancy—she’s an anti-abortion activist trying to prove the clinic doesn’t offer prenatal care. She lives with the guilt of her own abortion after she was raped at a fraternity party. In Picoult’s words, Janine has “white-washed the stain with years of pro-life activism.”
Also inside the Center that morning are Hugh’s teenage daughter, Wren, and his older sister, Bex, who has helped raise Wren since Hugh’s wife left them years ago. Wren is there for a prescription for birth control pills, and she asked Bex to accompany her so she wouldn’t have to walk alone past the line of protesters.
Interspersed with these stories of how each character came to be at the Center are the ongoing negotiations between Hugh and George, heightening the tension throughout the novel, even though most of the denouement occurs in the opening chapter.
A Spark of Light is another winner for Picoult—a provocative exploration of an issue that is in the spotlight now more ever before.