A Spark of Light

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult Book Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of Small Great Things returns with a powerful and provocative new novel about ordinary lives that intersect during a heart-stopping crisis.

“Picoult at her fearless best . . . Timely, balanced and certain to inspire debate.”—The Washington Post

The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services 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.

One of the most fearless writers of our time, Jodi Picoult 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.

Praise for A Spark of Light

“This is Jodi Picoult at her best: tackling an emotional hot-button issue and putting a human face on it.”People
“Told backward and hour by hour, Jodi Picoult’s compelling narrative deftly explores controversial social issues.”Us Weekly

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A Spark of Light (Jodi Picoult) Book Reviews

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- Difficult subject to cover3 star

Abortion is always a hot button topic and I feel the author handled it very well. However, I hated the backward timeline! It was confusing and annoying. When you reached one of the “hours” it told you something you already knew from the beginning only in more detail. Not my favorite of her books.

- Disappointed1 star

Plot line was promising but seems like little effort was put into developing the story further, or at least to the point that the “twist” wasn’t completely obvious from the beginning. The reverse order in telling the story wasn’t edgy; it was a weak effort to cover up the poorly developed story and complete lack of closure.

- Predictable dialogue2 star

There was so much potential with the story line of this novel, but the writing got in the way.

- Disappointed2 star

I normally love Jodi Picoult’s books. I have to say this is my least favorite. It took forever to get to the point. Characters were all over the place and I felt like the ending was rushed and the characters were left unanswered. I understand the subject of abortion is a tough one and trying to understand both sides was important. But honestly the story dragged and it left me hanging.

- 1 Star1 star

Very confusing writing - hard to follow through the multiple characters. Most likely the last book I’ll ever read by this author.

- Disappointed1 star

I have read every one of Picoult’s books. Though her early books rank as some of my all-time favorite reads, her recent work has been missing something. I really struggled to finish this one. Its clear that tackling the abortion subject was more of a priority than character development and strong story lines. I miss her old work.

- So Disappointing1 star

I’ve been a massive fan of Jody Picoult for years and have read every single book until this one. Her books always deal with controversial subjects and I enjoyed that she made me think and consider how I would react in the situation. But this book is different- it’s preachy and the author’s point of view is unmistakable. I noticed the change in her writing with Small Great Things but let it go and finished the book. For the first time ever I will not finish a Jody Picoult book and regret spending my hard earned money on it. If you want to transition from a novelist to an activist go for it. But don’t subject your readers to your activism disguised as fiction.

- Incredibly disappointed-1 star

Have read every JP novel, this will be my last. First book by any author I haven’t finished in years. I am so incredibly disappointed and unhappy with this book.

- Hard to follow1 star

I did not enjoy the backwards narrative of this book. Had to read the jacket of the book to determine why it was written that way. The ending was very thrown together and did not satisfactorily wrap up the majority of the story lines. First Jodi Picoult book that I struggled to finish reading.

- Amazing5 star

This book is informative but also a heart wrenching story that keeps you engaged. If you’re pro life read this book.

- Sad and hard to read2 star

I love Jodi Picoult and have always admired her ability to show all sides of controversial issues. But I was disappointed in how, in Spark of Light, pro life characters seem like whack jobs and extremist. I am a Christian from Mississippi and pro life. I believe that life begins at conception. However, I am not naive enough to believe that there aren't lots of God fearing Bible toting ladies of the south secretly getting abortions. I just think the book stigmatizes Southern Christian folks who, by in large, are just like any other people around the world. We are not all extremist nut cases like this book portrays. Shame on you Jodi for stereotyping.

- A spark of light5 star

Must read!! Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors, I finish one book and anticipate the next release. Haven’t been disappointed by a single one of her books. A Spark of Light was amazing, it definitely made you think about the controversial topic of abortion.

- Very Disappointing1 star

I usually love Jodi Picoult book but this one makes me cautious about buying another one of her books. The story line bounces from forward to backward, so that you know what happens later in the day and spend the rest of the book going backwards—insane! It gets bogged down in detail about medical procedures and does not provide closure on some characters. I don’t usually give such low ratings to books, as a writer I know how much time it takes to write a story but this book deserves the one star I gave it. Very disappointing.

- A long, drawn-out torturous read...2 star

This was one of the worse Jodi Picault novels yet. The storyline was ridiculously drawn out and read more like a preaching treatise than a compelling novel. The entire story could have been told in three chapters. This author is off my reading choice list...

- Simple prose, predictable story, a waste of time.1 star

Simple prose, predictable story, a waste of time.

- Perfect and Breathtaking4 star

The backwards way of reading and interpreting this story may be to give full appreciation to each character apart from their separate personal and accidental tragedies. But it was very hard to start. I absolutely Loved her details, thoroughly researched medical perspectives, and legal points. I will not stop thinking about this book for a very long time as a woman, a mother, and an Women’s Health Nurse

- Unclear ending!3 star

I love all of Jodi’s books, really dives into the gray areas in controversial topics. I am so sad that I didn’t get closure with so many characters! I want to know what happens to Izzy and Bex!!! So confusing!😭

- Didn’t want to keep reading1 star

I usually love Picoult’s books, but I barely made it through the sample part at the beginning. Not the same quality as her other books-disjointed, poor character development, bad scene setting.

- Disappointed.1 star

I have read every book Jodi Picoult has written. I was eager for this new one, as I typically love her stuff. Not this time. This was her worst book ever, by far. I know Picoult loves to take controversy and write a story around it, but the taboo abortion topic was already covered in her book Plain Truth, and was done FAR BETTER. The plot stunk, the characters lacked depth and tie in to the story. The ending was incomplete, and then backwards methodology didn’t work at all. It was more than predictable who Beth was, but the ending of her story went unresolved. As did the aunt’s storyline. Frankly, it was awful. I would tell Ms. Picoult not to get so political that she forgets why her readers picked up her book. She is bordering on that for me.

- Great concept, but doesn’t deliver2 star

Don’t waste your money on a book with a hot topic issue as the actual storyline is confusing and lacks resolution.

- Not my favorite2 star

I usually love Jodi Picoults books but I struggled with this one. I hated how it kept going chronologically in reverse and found myself groaning each time it went back an hour. I did appreciate the differing viewpoints on abortion which were thoughtful but the ending felt abrupt and unfinished, after so much back story I felt like the reader deserved a real ending and something more. Just not my favorite.

- Could have been very good3 star

I was excited to read this book. Then I started reading it and it went backwards. I was lost and discombobulated by the layout. If I had to do it over again I would have read the book backwards.

- A spark of light1 star

This book sucked. I used to enjoy Jody Picoult books but they have really gone down hill. Won’t be buying any more. The book starts at almost the end and goes back in time then ends at the end but doesn’t tell how it end s for all parties involved.

- Great book5 star

Jodi Picoult is the only author I know that is willing to take on a subject that makes people uncomfortable and still deliver a great story! Her stories always make you think about the "what ifs" in life.

- The worst1 star

I usually love JP novels. I hated this one. Normally she writes objectively about a topic presenting both sides equally but not this time. Writing in reverse chronological order with a quick, unorganized ending that seems thrown together makes me very unhappy. No resolution for most of the characters just a mess. I want back the hours of my life I wasted reading this book.

- 5 stars!5 star

Absolutely fantastic read!

- ....3 star

It was an okay book to read.

- So disappointed...1 star

I have read all of Jodi’s books and always look forward to the next one with eager anticipation. I had a difficult time getting into this one from the beginning and it never got better - it felt like a rambling, jumbled mess.

- A Spark of Light1 star


- What a disappointment. Not the quality of storytelling that I’ve come to expect from Jodi Piccoult.2 star

Really struggled to get through the last half of this book. It’s like got tired of writing this novel and just quit putting any effort into the last half of the book.

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@aumkeshavsharma AS YOU STA YOUR NEW WEEK, Start it knowing YOU ARE THE SOUL~Created in the Image of SUPREMEGOD~Y…

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@generationOn: ICYMI, read the first blog of a two-part series featuring Daily Point of Light honorees Shreyaa and Esha Venkat of Ashbur…

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@generationOn: ICYMI, read the first blog of a two-part series featuring Daily Point of Light honorees Shreyaa and Esha Venkat of Ashbur…

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@ysjagan: For 9 mins tomorrow at 9PM, I urge everyone in Andhra Pradesh to ignite a spark of hope; to cast away the darkness looming ove…

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@ysjagan: For 9 mins tomorrow at 9PM, I urge everyone in Andhra Pradesh to ignite a spark of hope; to cast away the darkness looming ove…

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There is no way of knowing whether this boundary will ultimately result in more thunderstorm development. You still…

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@THECOMPOSITE bisa cocok kalo pas pertama kali ketemu lo berdua saling excited kaya ada spark gitu soalnya pas awal…

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@ysjagan: For 9 mins tomorrow at 9PM, I urge everyone in Andhra Pradesh to ignite a spark of hope; to cast away the darkness looming ove…

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Then i think of the start, And it echoes a spark. I remember the magic electricity. Then i looked in my heart, The…

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@ItsStarBahar: @poetastrologers False starts. Stop and go. But this week: a spark of genius. A flash of light. You've felt like this bef…

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"Covid-19 has not dimmed the creativity of artists, nor the enduring spirit that keeps Edinburgh’s festivals thrivi…

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"Be aware of your own worth, use all of your power to achieve it. Create an ocean from a dewdrop. Do not beg for li…

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@spark_of_light_ jui a bout😭😭

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@DKSchu Yup, agree 100%. I keep hoping for believers to answer my questions, so I can explore how they reached the…

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Light the blue touch paper of prayer, it only takes a spark.

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