A Spark of Light

A Spark of LightA Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
Published by Ballantine Books on October 2nd 2018
Pages: 352
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“Today, Wren McElroy thought, was not a good day to die.”

This book begins with a hostage situation at the local Center. The Center is a place for women (and teens) to go and get birth control, have gynecological examinations, and obtain abortions. It is known as a woman’s reproductive health services clinic. Naturally there are those who do not want such a clinic in their community and there are those who are thankful that it is there.

One day a man bursts into the clinic and begins firing. Another man, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator is called to the scene. He has been getting a flurry of texts from his daughter and learns that she is inside the health clinic and is one of the hostages. He also learns that his sister is with Wren and has been injured.

Wren and her aunt are not the only hostages. There are others and through the story we get to learn about each character, his/her past and why they are in the clinic that day. They either work at the Center or they are there for services. We are given each of their perspectives. This book is told in reverse. It starts with the hostage situation and goes back in time to the beginning of the day. For some this reverse story telling may work, for others, it may not. There is also a story-line being told in this book apart from the hostage, in a different location, but is connected to the hostage situation.

I requested this book without even knowing what the subject matter of this book would be, I didn’t care as I enjoy Jodi Picoult. She never shy’s away from controversial or uncomfortable subject matter and always does her homework. Some books I enjoy more than others. This was certainly the case with this book. What I appreciated the most was that this book was not preachy. The reader is never pushed to be pro-life or pro-choice. In the Author’s note she gives statistics and cites laws. I also enjoyed how she gave back story on the characters and his/her reason’s for being at the clinic that day.

I am teetering back and forth between a 3 and a 3.5 star rating for this book. I will admit, I wasn’t a fan of how this book was told in reverse. I might have enjoyed it more if it was told from beginning to end instead of end to beginning. What worked for me in this book were the various voices as I stated above. Plus, there is a little secret revealed at the end which leads to an aha moment. I appreciate that she took on such important and timely subject matter. Regardless of where one stands on the issues, I think she did a very good job of telling the story.

Thank you to Random House Publishing – Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Small Great Things

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Published by Ballantine Books on October 11th 2016
Pages: 480
ISBN: 0345544951
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Received from the Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ruth is a labor and delivery nurse (she has been for 20 years). One day she goes in to do a new Mother and Infant check and the parents are not too friendly, in fact, they are hostile. The exam ends when the father tells her to get away from his wife. He then goes on to tell Ruth’s supervisor that no African American hospital staff are to touch his son. A post it note is put in the chart and Ruth is made aware of this as she is the only African American working in the Labor and delivery department. The parents are white supremacists. Ruth is upset but agrees to comply.

The next day Ruth is left alone in a room with the baby after he is circumcised and the baby goes into distress. What is Ruth to do. There is a note in the chart saying no African Americans are to touch the baby, but the baby needs medical help. She has taken the Oath a nurse takes. Does she listen to her supervisor and the note, does she act? What is the woman supposed to do. What is right and what is wrong. Her supervisor comes in and tells her to act, she performs CPR but unfortunately that baby dies.

Ruth is charged with Murder. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t comes to mind for this circumstance. She is arrested along with her teenage son by police who enter her home at 3 a.m. She is represented the next day by a white female public defender named Kennedy who advises Ruth that race has no room in the court room. It is not a winning strategy.

For Ruth, race has everything to do with her arrest and the charges against her. We see how people react to her. Ruth goes to the cafeteria to get something for her self and staff asks her if she needs help while at the same time pulling her purse closer to herself. We see Ruth followed closely while shopping for a present. She is approached several times and upon leaving the store, her receipt and bag are checked.

The story progresses and we see who Ruth and Kennedy begin to trust each other and let the other one in. I thought it was a great learning experience for both of them but mainly for Kennedy.

Race is a big subject to take on. I thought that Picoult did a very good job with it. At least in my mind she did. She showed us several families. The white supremacists, Ruth, her son and her sister, and Kennedy’s family. I thought she did a good job with those. She was able to show how characters so full of hate could also be full of love. That is a tricky thing but it is real. How a person can love their child, their spouse yet hate others so deeply. She also showed how people don’t want to be seen as racists and how people don’t either see or want to acknowledge there is a problem because the problem does not affect them.

Ruth’s trial begins and I thought Picoult did the courtroom scenes very well. Character dynamics, relationships, fear, loss, regret, wanting to have your say, to tell the truth, to have justice, revenge all come into play.

There is a reveal at the end of the book that was interesting and I did not see coming.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think this is a perfect book for book clubs. Lots of great discussions can be had.


Leaving Time

Leaving TimeLeaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Published by Ballantine Books on October 14th 2014
Pages: 398
ISBN: 0345544927
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I’m teetering between a 3 or a 3.5 rating for this book. I have to say that I did not see the ending coming! Jenna has been wondering for years about what happened to her Mother after a tragic event that occured at the elephant sanctuary run by her parents. She takes matters in her own hands and enlists the help of Serenity ,a psychic, and Virgil, one of the detectives who originally investigated the death at the elephant sanctuary. She never knew what happened to her Mother after that night. The trio set out to find out what happened to Alice. This book is told in alternating points of view. I especially liked Serenity and Alice’s (the missing Mother) parts. There is a lot of information on elephants in this book. Picoult definitely did her research. I found the information to be very interesting but as the book went on, it began to get a little old. BUT….it does all have a purpose. Alice was a post doc researcher studying (and living with elephants). She studied how elephants grieve the loss of other elephants…especially when a Mother Elephant loses her calf. This was an enjoyable read..some may have seen the ending coming, but I did not.