Review: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

: A Spark of Light
Author: Jodi Picoult
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Free ARC from Ballantine Books

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Ballantine via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.


Goodreads Summary: “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 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 cross hairs 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.”

Review: This book is another perfect example of an author I respect and previously enjoyed, writing a book about a highly relevant and emotional topic that I’m drawn to, but still managing, against all odds, to leave me wanting.

To be fair, I’m not a Jodi Picoult fan the way so many are, in that I’ve only read one of her books – Small Great Things. However, I did love that book and the way she studied the subject matter from many different angles. It was tough material, and I have a lot of respect for the way she approached it. Which is why I follow her on Twitter and have great admiration for her.

While I acknowledge that she addressed the subject matter with the same kind of respect, thoughtfulness, and open-mindedness, showing both sides of the story, something fell flat for me. The approach of starting out in the middle of the action is interesting, but didn’t really work for me. I understand why it seemed like a viable tactic, unraveling each person’s story by moving backwards instead of forwards, but it took all the energy out of the plot, and I found it disconnecting.

I originally gave this 4 stars (which was really a 3.5 rounded up because Goodreads), but now that a few months have passed, I find I like it even less. A meh feeling = 3 stars in my book, and this was definitely a solid 3 stars. If you’re a big Picoult fan, I’m sure you’ll read it whether I recommend it or not. 😉 If you haven’t read her before, I’d still give her a go, I’d just start somewhere else.

11 Replies to “Review: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult”

  1. Definitely an honest review and one that gives your reader some options. I was initially disappointed that I did not receive this as an ARC, but as time moved on, I saw more “meh” reviews, as you say, and realized I was probably saved from some wasted hours. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

    • Thank you for the feedback. Every author has a miss here and there, and I think this is especially true if they are a prolific writer. With 24 novels under her belt, I’d say Picoult is going to occasionally write a book that doesn’t appeal to all.

  2. This one had a lot of mixed reviews. I was a bit put off by the backwards timeline of this one, I often felt a bit confused. The subject matter of course, is a tough one. I waffled when I reviewed and rated this book. I am glad I read it, but agree with Jennifer, not one of her best.

    • Thanks, Carla! I know she is a beloved author, and I follow her on Twitter because I find her to be very respectful when tackling difficult subjects, and generally, I just enjoy her Twitter personality. At some point, I plan to go back to her earlier work.

  3. Thanks for sharing your honest review, Myndi. I’ve been a fan of Jodi Picoult for what seems like forever. I’m starting this book this week and hope I enjoy it. Definitely mixed reviews on it! I did enjoy Small Great Things too. 💜

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