Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

A Spark of Light (Jodi Picoult)

on March 19, 2019

Spark of LightThe novel had been sitting in my TBR pile for several months. I had made several attempts to start, but life always tended to get in the way. That’s actually a fairly accurate summary of my 2019 reading life — everything else always seems to get in the way of my reading. When Spring Break arrived, I realized this was my opportunity to escape into the world of Jodi Picoult again and explore A Spark of Light.

A Spark of Light is set in Jackson, Mississippi and traces the events of a single day at The Center – a reproductive health center…..an abortion provider. George Goddard enters the bright orange building, asks what they did to his baby, and pulls out a handgun. Shots are fired. Blood is shed. Professionals and patients in The Center now find themselves as hostages. Hugh McElroy, the police negotiator celebrating his 40th birthday, is called to the scene in an effort to end the standoff before the SWAT team is sent in. Once he arrives at the scene, Hugh makes an unsettling discovery. Two of the women in The Center are his older sister, Bex, and his 15-year-old daughter, Wren.

In typical Picoult fashion, A Spark of Light is a gripping tale. The narrative shifts between character perspectives throughout each chapter that explores the events of each hour of the fateful day at The Center. Surprisingly to this reader, the timeline emerges in a reverse-chronological fashion, exposing many of the causes of previously seen events. Picoult’s characters are beautifully drawn and are anything but one-dimensional. Just as you think you understand a woman’s choices, you learn that there is more to her back story that is vitally important.

Is this novel about abortion rights? Yes and no. Of course, the issue is present throughout the book with its views of providers, patients, and protestors. However, I didn’t feel as though I was reading a treatise on the issue of abortion in the US. (When you read the author’s note at the end of the book, Picoult’s views on the topic become much clearer in case there is any doubt though.) Instead, the novel itself was an examination of humanity and how a cast of characters may respond to the abortion debate while attempting to explain how they might have arrived at their view. While I did not always agree with Picoult’s characterization of some groups, I thought that she ultimately managed to treat all considered equally and with respect.

I’m always fascinated by the titles of novels. The use of A Spark of Light is explained in the closing chapters of the book. While traveling to The Center from his Atlanta home, Dr. Ward (the central abortion provider of the story) is catching up on his reading of medical journals. In one of his articles, researchers have observed that at the moment of fertilization, a rush of calcium into the egg caused the release of zinc. As the zinc exited the egg, it attached to fluorescent molecules, creating a tiny spark of light.

Once again, Jodi Picoult has produced a fascinating novel that addresses a topic that is relevant to our culture. She examines the issue from both sides of the argument with grace and clarity. By inserting heart and the human condition, Picoult shows that things are not always as black and white as we might initially perceive. I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: