Book Review: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult


The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health A Spark of Lightservices 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 crosshairs 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.


Image result for three out of five  gold stars

Now, this is one of the books I have been most anticipating this year, I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult and absolutely adored her last book. I went into with high hopes and was gripped by the first paragraph, unfortunately, it went downhill from there.

In a classic Jodi Picoult way, the book features an array of complex characters dealing with a sensitive issue. In this case, it involves abortion as well as hostages and a gunman. Each issue is dealt with in a sensitive manner as well as giving each character time to be able to ‘tell their story’ as it were. I really liked the character of Wren and how she is able to deal with what is going on around her as well as her raw emotions especially with her being the youngest there, I also really loved the writing and how it was able to suck me into to each chapter.

What I did have a problem with though was with how it was written. Jodi Picoult took a big risk I feel with this book and decided to tell the story in reverse, counting down the hour’s chapter by chapter until you get to where it all started. For me, it just didn’t work. Each chapter I had to ‘readjust’ to what was going on which messed up my flow of reading, the characters that are introduced have already told their story so it didn’t feel like I had got to know them before they are making game-changing decisions. I also felt that this hindered their character development as they have already made their realizations earlier on in the day but later on in the book. It also took away any surprises because the first chapter had already gone over the main things that had happened. Yes there was a twist I suppose at the end but it still wasn’t a surprise and I had guessed by about the third chapter. This is unusual for me with Jodi Picoult books as she does generally add a punch to the end of her stories whereas this one just felt flat. The first chapter still remains the most ‘exciting’ chapter and that’s just not how I enjoy my stories being told.

I have still given the book 3 out of 5 stars, the story itself is enjoyable I just think it would have been better told in order.

Rating: 3/5

Would I read again: No

Would I Recommend: No

Would I read another book from this author: Yes

10 thoughts on “Book Review: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

    1. Glad it wasn’t just me, I know she was trying to go for a different kind of story telling but I don’t think I will be giving a book told backwards another chance if I’m honest


  1. Thank you for providing all us aspiring reviewers with an example of how to review a book that you admire while finding and disclosing flaws that detract from your enjoyment of the book. I have been met with this situation more than once, and have found myself hard pressed to present a balance.


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