What I’m Reading: A Spark of Light

From the book jacket:

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.

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.

Jodi Picoult—one of the most fearless writers of our time—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. 

My review:

I’m not even sure where to start with A Spark of Light, so I suppose I’ll start by saying that I really, really enjoyed it. The reverse timeline, while different, worked so well; I couldn’t put the book down because I wanted to know how everyone got to this point. In a sense, it’s much like how any type of investigative work is conducted: A major event happens, and all the layers are peeled back one by one to see where everything/everyone originated from.

Without getting into what my personal beliefs are on the subject of this book (because that’s not what this review is about), I can understand the anger and frustration from both sides of the equation, and Picoult does a remarkable job arguing both sides.

When you say you can’t do something because your religion forbids it, that’s a good thing. When you say I can’t do something because your religion forbids it, that’s a problem.

– Dr. Louie Ward

I think that quote spoke to me the most, out of everything else in the book. No matter what your beliefs may be, I think the above quote is something everyone should really consider in all aspects of life.

A Spark of Light also made me so thankful to live where I do. Healthcare is an amazing privilege and while there are a few issues, I can find care regardless of my social status.

Anyway – while I’ve read that some readers didn’t like the reverse timeline, I felt that Picoult left just enough information out to keep me intrigued and wondering how everything happened – thank goodness for the epilogue! The small twist near the end was perfect and not too over-the-top, and explains so much. My only desire was to learn more about Beth. At the end of the book I was left wondering what happened to her because in a sense, she had lost the most out of anyone.

Overall, I believe that A Spark of Light is a thought-provoking book that is definitely worth reading. Jodi Picoult nailed it again.

My rating: ★★★★★/5

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What I’m Reading: Dark Places

From the book jacket:
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

My review:
Well then, this book was a little intense compared to the silly, light, & refreshing book I reread right before diving into this one!

I decided to pick up Dark Places as I really enjoyed Gone Girl. (Which I apparently read way back in 2013!) I was in the “mood” for something a little darker, and this definitely filled that request.

Dark Places takes you back and forth between the past and present, going between Patty and Ben before the murders happened, and Libby during the present day as she tries to figure out what actually happened. There ends up being a lot of finger pointing as to who may have killed the Days, and I thought I had figured out what had happened a couple of different times but alas, I was WAY wrong.

The characters were all well developed, but I would’ve liked to know more about Debbie and Michelle, and perhaps even Runner.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book, and I’ll give it ★★★★½ / 5. Maybe read it in the summer in the sunshine though, as it’s pretty heavy for a dreary winter read.

What I’m Reading: The Light We Lost

The Light We LostFrom the book jacket:
He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

My review:
I stumbled across this title while casually looking for one more book to add to my cart for a special Kobo 3-for-1 deal. I had never heard of the author before, but the it received praised from both Reese Witherspoon and my favourite author, Emily Giffin, so I figured why the heck not?

I definitely don’t regret my decision as The Light We Lost really drew me in quickly and I had a hard time putting it down. In a nutshell, the main character Lucy is addressing her ex-boyfriend Gabe, telling the story of how they came together during a horrific time in history, and how they eventually grew apart and where her life took her after that.

The book really makes you think about all the things that could’ve been, the what-ifs, and if-only’s of life. What if you chose a different university? What if you chose one partner over another? What if … ?

Although I found the ending to be slightly predictable, I still loved The Light We Lost and would definitely recommend it.

My rating: ★★★★★/5