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A Spark of Light

A Novel
Written by: Jodi Picoult
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin, Jodi Picoult
Length: 13 hrs and 3 mins
4 out of 5 stars (125 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Number one New York Times best seller

The author 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 15-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)

©2018 Jodi Picoult (P)2018 Random House Audio

What the critics say

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

“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)

“Thoroughly realistic storytelling...Picoult has achieved what politicians across the spectrum have not been able to: humanized a hot-button issue. Excellent for book clubs, this should also be considered for discussions in critical thinking and political debate.” (Library Journal, starred review) 

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Story told in Reverse

In general I liked the characters and story of this book but I wouldn’t recommend it. The story is told in reverse order which I found confusing especially in the audiobook format. If you are going to read this book, skip the audio version and go with a regular book that makes it easier to flip back to the beginning to figure out how the day actually fits together.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Amy
  • 2019-01-02

Good book, not well-suited to audio

The backwards chronology of the chapters made it hard to follow as an audiobook. Wish I had read it on paper because the story was very compelling.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Really didn't like the timeline

The timeline skipped around and was really confusing. Wasn't in love with any of the characters so didn't feel attached to them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An infuriating waste of a credit

I usually enjoy Jodi Picoult, but I can't finish this one. It's tedious. The author goes round and round the issue of abortion until I want to scream--enough already! I'm not even tempted to fast-forward to see who gets out alive and who doesn't--it's that annoying.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting book

This book tells the story in reverse. This is a bit hard wrap your head aroud in spots.
The caracters all have vibrant stories to tell so it is worth the struggle.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A spark of light

I do not like this book at all. Please refund my credit . It is too messed up.

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Backwards

This book was written backwards. The beginning was the end kind of thing. Reminded me of the backwards Seinfeld episode from the 90’s. Seinfeld episode was clever, this was just boring and unnecessary IMO.

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So horribly disappointed

The story jumped all over the place. There was no ending to each of the characters story. I have never been shocked for a book to end without us knowing the outcome of each character

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Wow! It really made me think

This was my first attempt at an audiobook and it took me three tries to get through, only because of the backward retelling. I persevered and it was so worthwhile. The plot truly made me think and appreciate the fact that I have never had to make such a challenging decision. It was eye opening and has been a topic of discussion with friends since I've finished. I usually listen while I'm walking or cleaning; there were some tears shed while doing so.

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well written

well written and eye opening. very relevant right now and a great ending.a must read for amy feminist.

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  • Stephanie Stupack
  • 2018-10-09

Least favorite Picoult book

I've read nearly all of her books over the years. While I do appreciate her branching out in style, and the subject matter, this story fell flat for me.

It jumps around in time and character narrative in a way that doesn't weave a great story, but rather retells the same parts over and over again.

32 of 33 people found this review helpful

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  • ❤️ Cyndi Marie ❤️
  • 2018-10-05

✫✫ 4 Stars ✫✫

First let me start by saying I did enjoy this book and I finished it in one day! But this is not my favorite Jodi Picoult book, not because of the subject matter but because of the way the story line was written in reverse from ending to beginning and because of this it jumped all over the place from character to character and that made it very hard to keep them straight in the beginning and even harder to get attached to any of them.

The story itself was very good, the controversial subject matter I feel is something that will always be debated and I doubt people will ever agree on. I did enjoy seeing so many different women with so many different situations and also the people who are affected by the violence who aren't even at these places for anything to do with abortions. For me this just shows that violence is NEVER the way to get your point across and is usually irrational. The "shooter" in this book was completely irrational, he wasn't thinking clearly obviously, he was there as a result of an innocent life he felt was taken but he had no problem taking other innocent lives, for me this is proof he wasn't thinking clearly. The authors note in the end was what actually hit the most buttons for me. The biggest controversy for me on this topic is that violence will not force people to think the same way you do, for me it just makes you not credible and why would someone listen to you if you can't even express your thoughts maturely and sanely. But that is just my opinion ;)

The narration was perfect! Bahni Turpin is a phenomenal narrator in every book she performs and this book was no exception!

61 of 66 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda Penfield
  • 2018-10-10

Tedious

It was too repetitive and moved one step forward two steps back. Happy happy new day enjoy I have loved all of her previous books but this one didn’t measure up. Disappointed


16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Karen M. Kaplan
  • 2018-10-11

NOT a TRUE Picoult Read

I feel like this was pulled off of the closet shelf, spruced up lightly and put out for all of us the watch for Picoult's latest and greatest. It does not have the character development that pulls you into her stories and the issues she is addressing. I could not even finish it, because truly, I did not cry about any of her numerous characters.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • donna
  • 2018-10-08

It stays

With you. I love this author books but this was not her best. Granted the subject matter is very controversial. She usually does a fantastic job with juxtaposition of conflict. As a person that has spent many years as a labor and delivery RN. I’ve seen it all. The worst possible outcomes and best possible out comes, and some unexplainable outcomes. They are different for every individual. The question of right should be to who is, or is not giving birth. Every human experience is different, so every choice is different for personal reasons. People get into a rabbit hole of pro choice or pro life, are forcing there subjective thought onto people they don’t even know in situations they have no experience with. The author shows many of the misunderstandings but there are so many more. If the subject matter is interesting to you it’s worth a listen. If not I would recommend getting something else.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Carmel K. Dunlap
  • 2018-10-06

Disappointment

I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Jodi's newest novel for months as I've been a fan ever since reading Leaving Time, which I still consider one of her best. I've loved nearly everything she has ever written though her last book was not one that kept my interest. Still, all those wonderful novels that get you thinking about situations, I was sure this newest one would be a winner too. Sorry, I felt nothing, and found myself skipping chapters after a bit, trying to get to something that would keep my interest. After skipping half way through it, I gave up. I'm not going to waste my time with something that doesn't speak to me and keep me wanting more. I hope Jodi Picoult will write again, and I sincerely hope it will be something closer to what we know she is capable of. Also, I didn't really care for the reader. I hate saying that as I thought by the sound of her voice she seems like a very nice woman but her voice did nothing to entice me to stay with it. I will be returning this audible book, I'm very sad to say.

25 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • M. Wallace
  • 2018-10-06

This was just painful to listen to

I’ve always enjoyed Jodi Picoult’s timely fiction novels. However this one was painful to listen to. It was like she saw a news story that triggered her and turned a political rant into a novel. I am largely on her side of this issue and I found the constant pro choice lecturing boring and exhausting to listen to. I can’t even imagine how someone on the other side of the issue would feel...although to be fair they probably wouldn’t purchase this audiobook. There were other problems with the story too- it jumps timelines in a very jerky fashion that leaves the listener wondering what is happening- in fact, at the start I had to I check my device three times to make sure I was actually at the beginning of the story. Finally, I don’t know if it was the narrator or editing but there are no title names or pauses so when the chapters change character perspectives you are left wondering who is talking for far too long. Just a weirdly confusing, lecturing, arrogant mess of a novel! Nothing like most of her books!

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Karen
  • 2018-10-07

Hmmm

Aside from the fact that this story was hard to follow, what I always liked best about this author’s books was the balance of perspectives. Multiple points of view are generally present in Picoult’s stories, but definitely not in this one. Personally, I prefer a book that leaves me thinking and questioning. Too much agenda in this book.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • valerie
  • 2018-10-03

A little Heavy Handed

Let me start out by saying I am completely PRO-CHOICE. It's a good story but for me very difficult to read. It was written kind of in reverse order and I found that difficult to always follow. I also felt there were parts that were very preachy.

I'm in the middle of the road on this one. I typically like Jodi Picoults writting and her books. But on this on, you will have to decide.

32 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • Diane
  • 2018-10-12

Disappointing

I was disappointed in this book for two reasons: the large number of characters made it difficult to keep up with who’s who; the story moved back and forth in time which made it hard to understand the plot.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful