"A Spark of Light" Book Review
What It's About
"A Spark of Light" begins with the voice of a young woman contemplating death by thinking about how "her Grandmother was the only dead person Wren had ever seen, until two hours ago." Then at the Women's Center located in Jackson U.S, a crazed gunman has opened gunfire on the Center and taken hostages. Wren is one of ten points of view the reader follows while reading "A Spark of Light". All have some reason for being at the Center that day, including George the gunman and Hugh, Wren's father who is also a police officer trained in hostage negotiation. The story starts at the end at 5 pm in the evening and works backward to the morning and events leading up to the grand finale. It's an unorthodox way of telling a story as the reader works backward in time we learn more and more about each character and gradually become intertwined in their life's web. The reader wants to find out why George decided to shoot up the Center, and it drives the reader right to the end.
5 Reasons I Loved This Book
- Unique plot orientation: Picoult's choice to start this story at the end, rather than the beginning I found brilliant! Don't get me wrong I was skeptical at first and did wonder how one can start at the end, but was genuinely impressed by her ability to implant little bits of information to the reader through the thoughts of each character while the events of the shooting were happening. It appeals to the reader's natural instinct of needing to know the why's and how's everything happened the way it did.
- Multiple perspectives: I hate books with multiple perspectives. I have had a long-standing bad relationship with story's that have too many P.O.V's and honestly until "A Spark of Light" swore they could never be done in a way I would personally enjoy. This novel has changed that for me. Every character even the villain, you will connect with on a deep level. The reader enters the lightest and darkest parts of their souls, it captivating, heart-wrenching, and totally mesmerizing being able to connect to so many characters so deeply in one book.
- Thought provoking: This is not a story for the faint of heart or someone looking for a fluffy read. The plot is strictly focused on abortion and those who are pro-life and pro-choice, each having a valid and thought-provoking reason for why they have the belief that they do. It does not cast judgment or preference on either side but allows the reader to decide for themselves who and where they stand in the battle of choice vs life. You will think and feel for every perspective and continue to think about them for days even after finishing this book.
Violence, from one angle, looked like mercy from another.— Jodi Picoult
- Well thought out characters: This may be similar to the multiple perspectives, however, each character has a thoroughly planned and plotted backstory. They are so well thought out that I wonder if the author had planned each character for multiple different stories but for the fun of it put them all in one common setting just to see what happens. Not a single character was thrown into the mix just for the backbone in this book but has a point and a purpose.
- Atmosphere: The place and setting for any story are important, it sets the tone for the events that are about to take place and mood of those involved. So placing an active shooter in a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary for women is brilliant. I doubt many people are truly comfortable in a doctors office as hard as they might try with magazines and talk shows playing in the background. So placing a life-threatening situation in a place that one is supposed to trust with their lives, definitely set the tone for this novel in a discomforting yet riveting way.
2 Things I Didn't Like
- One story-line felt unfinished: Without giving up too much information, I did feel that one of the characters plots felt incomplete. The reader never finds out what ends up happening when everything is all said and done. Crossing my fingers that Picoult writes a continuation on this character...I think it would make a great part 2!
- The beginning is confusing: If you don't know that the story works in a reverse timeline and that it's going to change from character to character as fast as it does, you may find the first 20 pages a bit confusing. That is a major reason why I don't like books with multiple points of view. However, in "A Spark of Light" if you take some notes at the beginning about characters and their inevitable fates you'll catch on quick and it won't feel so disorienting.
My Final Thoughts
When I first saw this novel in the bookstore I thought "pretty cover, but I'm not a fan of contemporary fiction". I can't say that anymore. I read the preview that was available online one day at work and was hooked. I needed to know what happened to all those characters trapped in the Center I needed to know why George chose to shoot it up. In 25 pages of the preview, I was hooked! This story is heartwarming as well as heartbreaking. I'm so happy I read this novel and look forward to adding some more contemporary fiction to my TBR. If your looking for your next book club read, I highly recommend this one for you'll have some very thought-provoking discussions from this story.
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A beautiful contemporary novel! You will love every moment.