10.2.19

BOOK REVIEW: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

The Centre for women's reproductive health offers a last chance of hope- but nobody ends up their by choice.
Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building everyday, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.
Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.
Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by hour what brought each of the people- the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment- to this point.
And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose. 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 355

I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult's books and her last book, Small Great Things totally blew me away. However, I have very mixed feelings about her latest book, A Spark of Light. I heard the author talking about it on Radio 4 and the idea sounded fantastic but I came away feeling a little disappointed once I had reached the end.
The premise is that a group of people have been taken hostage at a Women's Health Centre by a gun man. In America, women's health centres deal with female reproductive health and they also carry out abortions. This is obviously a highly contentious issue and I was impressed by how far Picoult went in tackling it. She looks at many different angles and viewpoints, religion, gender, age, sexuality, ethics and morality. I do feel that she engaged in the subject well but the book fell down for me by being overly complicated. The story begins with the final negotiations and works its way back, I didn't have a problem with this but the problem was the number of characters involved. I was fully focused when reading but there were so many times when I was too confused to enjoy the story properly. Each character has their own back history which is a fantastic way of examining different view points. But the sheer amount of characters and jumping back and forth took away the impact of the actual story for me which was a shame.
I still felt quite invested in these characters so I was disappointed when there was a lot of loose ends, I didn't even want happy endings for them all but I was looking for some form of conclusion.
For me, A Spark of Light has a fantastic and important core element in the issue it is tackling but I did not feel that it was executed effectively.

1 comment:

Nadia A said...

Great post! I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Picoult's. I've enjoyed maybe 2 of her books, but the rest have been misses for me. This one was a huge miss - in fact, I DNFed it. I just feel like her books can be too sensationalistic.

BOOK REVIEW: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

The Centre for women's reproductive health offers a last chance of hope- but nobody ends up their by choice. Its very existence is cont...