A Spark of Light

A Spark of Light


The Center for women's reproductive health offers a last chance at hope - but nobody ends up there by choice.

Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, 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 urgent hour what brought each of these 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.

Our Review

One thing I love about Jodi Picoult is her ability to examine a contentious subject from every angle without seeming to land on either side of the debate. In A Spark of Light she takes the very emotive topic of abortion. People clearly have very definite opinions on which side of the debate they fall and that makes it all the more admirable that she is able to clearly represent both sides.

The Center is a woman’s clinic where they can come to access reproductive services including abortion. On an average day the women and staff entering the clinic can expect to be met by protestors confronting them with signs and judgement. Today is not a normal day.

Late in the morning a gunman bursts in taking the staff and women hostage. Trapped inside is a whole host of characters including a young girl named Wren…the hostage negotiator’s teenage daughter.

Whichever side of the debate you fall on A Spark of Light poses difficult questions. When does the right to personhood begin? How do you balance the right of the pregnant woman with the right of the unborn child? What does it mean to be a good parent? These questions and many others are considered in this thought-provoking novel.

The Center is set is in Mississippi and was once one of many but restrictions over the years caused the other to close.

“The Center had suffered scars from the cuts of politicians and the barbs of protestors. It had licked its wounds and healed. At one point it had been called the Center for Women and Reproductive Health, but there were those who believed if you do not name a thing, it ceases to exist, and so its title was amputated, like a war injury.”

I liked that A Spark of Light began with the hostage situation and then went back in time to show how each of the people in the Center had ended up there. My favourite characters were probably Olive and Louie.

As usual this novel was very well researched, and I liked that the author included so many facts in the book although some of them may be a bit graphic for some readers, particularly those that include the process of the abortion.

This novel gave me food for thought particularly when thinking about the type of people who object to abortions and why they object and also the myriad of reason why women chose to have abortions. Also, questioning the way different states can differ so much in their laws around abortion.

“Perhaps the question wasn’t When does a foetus become a person? But When Does a woman stop being one.”

The author’s note at the end of the book contains some particularly interesting information on a topic of reproductive rights of women and efforts to curtail them – something which has been in the news a lot recently.

A Spark of Light is certainly worthwhile reading.


Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

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