Book Review: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

What’s it about?

The Center for women’s reproductive health offers a last chance at hope – but nobody ends up there by choice.

Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.

Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.

Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people – the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment – to this point.

And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.

My thoughts

Say what you like about Jodi Picoult but she knows how to spin a good yarn and is always relevant and on topic with it!  Her research is second to none and I am utterly convinced, every time, of her facts and detail.

This was a recent book club read and one which we had a really good discussion about.  We couldn’t have been reading and discussing at a more pivotal moment as the Alabama abortion bill was all over the news.

The book starts at 5pm and works back in time, gotta be honest here I didn’t love that the timeline started at the end and went backwards as you were given all the characters and hadn’t a clue what was happening.  As the story moves back through the day we begin to see how they these characters all came to be at the clinic at the wrong time and as the ending (or actually the beginning) nears you understand why it was totally necessary to begin at the end, it couldn’t have really worked with the timeline moving forwards and therefore I concede 😉

Of course this book isn’t going to be for every reader, there is a particularly detailed scene of an abortion which is quite brutal and in all honesty this made me really challenge my own thoughts and feelings on abortion…although I still know on which side of the fence I sit, it doesn’t make for pleasant reading!

You could cut the tension with a knife in practically every scene of this book and as long as your nerves and stomach can take it you might make the end.  The end…well here I am again, I didn’t see it coming at all or how the characters intertwined.  With all that tension, hostages, shoot outs and family drama I could definitely see this working as a movie.

As a side note – I’ve managed to convert members of my Meetup book group to read a Jodi Picoult book as they’ve all wrongly assumed, based on the covers, that they would get a very different reading experience and I’ll leave that there.

 

“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author Links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Borrowed
No of pages: 368
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

small-great-thingsWhat’s it about?

Raised as the daughter of a black maid in a privileged white household, Ruth is no stranger to prejudice.

Now, as a hospital nurse, she thinks she is a world away from the inequality that defined her mother’s life. But the patients in her care have not all moved on so far. A white supremacist couple can dictate that no person of colour treats their newborn child.

And when that baby stops breathing on Ruth’s watch, Ruth has to decide whether her vocational oath is stronger than the hospital’s edict.

That decision – one a white nurse would never have had to make – could cost her everything.

My thoughts

This was my fourth Picoult novel and is contention for the best one.  She always manages to pick subjects that will provoke a reader’s emotions and this is no exeception, it’s brilliant.

Told from various points of view throughout but mostly Ruth, Turk (the white supremacist) and Kennedy (the lawyer), they each in turn give us their take on racism; their thoughts and actions and how they deal with it, cope with it and even provoke it.

There are occasions where I felt that the situations Ruth and her son Edison were in and the things that they felt were over-dramatised or sensationalised but I put the book down and thought about it, and then thought, actually this kind of crap still happens on a daily basis.  Unless you’ve lived under a rock these past few months you’ve probably heard of the campaign #blacklivesmatter which has been very much in the news and is exactly the kind of discrimination this book is highlighting.

Had I not have known this was written by Picoult I would have put money on it being written by a black author; it’s so incredibly raw, packed with racial tension that comes across as incredibly authenic which at times makes for uncomfortable reading.  At the end of the day here we have a white author depicting what it feels like to be racially discriminated against every day of your life – very brave, but from reading some of her other books Picoult doesn’t pick easy to tackle subjects.

There’s nothing held back, it’s all very controversial and extremely on point topically.  I didn’t love the outcome in the epilogue but this didn’t detract from the sure fire winner this book will no doubt become.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
Benjamin Franklin

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC – Small Great Things will be published in the UK on 22nd November 2016 by Hodder & Stoughton.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter


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My favourite reads of 2013

Out of the 64 books I’ve read this year, I gave 12 5 stars on Goodreads; these were:

(click on the titles to go to the reviews)

Perfect People by Peter James

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish

The Second Life of Amy Archer by RS Pateman

A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay

The Humans by Matt Haig

Killing Floor by Lee Child

Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

Lost and Found by Tom Winter

The Detective’s Daughter by Lesley Thompson

It’s not always about how well a book is written but also about how much I’ve enjoyed it and I suppose at different times you enjoy certain books more than others.

What were your favourite reads of 2013?

Book Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

What’s it about?

Sage Singer has a past that makes her want to hide from the world. Sleeping by day and working in a bakery by night, she kneads her emotion into the beautiful bread she bakes. But when she strikes up an unlikely friendship with Josef Weber, a quiet man old enough to be her grandfather, and respected pillar of the community, she feels that finally, she may have found someone she can open up to. Until Josef tells her the evil secret he’s kept for sixty years. Caught between Josef’s search for redemption and her shattered illusions, Sage turns to her family history and her own life for answers. As she uncovers the truth from the darkest horrors of war, she must follow a twisting trail between betrayal and forgiveness, love and revenge. And ask herself the most difficult question she has ever faced – can murder ever be justice? Or mercy?

My thoughts

This is Jodi Picoult’s 22nd novel and in true Picoult style she has given us another ethical issue that makes us question – what would we do?

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to write a review about such a powerful and emotive subject – as there aren’t really the right words but it has to be said, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read! The best books after all are the ones that leave us reeling after we’ve finished reading and this certainly does that.

Having not having read anything about the Holocaust before and only ever watching The Boy in the Striped Pajamas movie, I did wonder how graphic and upsetting this book would be. It’s perfectly pitched – of course the subject matter of the Holocaust is horrific so it’s never going to be easy reading but you can also appreciate it hasn’t been included for sensationalist effect.

Yes this is a work of fiction but it reads more like survivor’s diaries and this is attributed to the author’s research. The historical accuracy and level of research is outstanding and I also believe Picoult was taken to visit Auschwitz by her publishers which must have been an such an emotional experience.

Can someone who committed such atrocities be forgiven? Do they ever really change? I don’t know…but this book sure raises those questions!

I felt I was there on every step of Sage’s and Minka’s journey – the amazing descriptions of the places and experiences – I felt as though I could smell and taste that cinnamon and chocolate roll! Intermingled is Minka’s fictional story of the Upior (Polish for vampire) which is quite gruesome and a bit gothic and there are obvious similarities to her story and her own life and experiences.

Won’t spoil it for you but I didn’t see the the twist at the end coming even though there were clues! This is a compelling, heartbreaking and thought provoking book and a must read for all Picoult fans and those you’ve never picked up one before!

Learn more here about The Storyteller and Jodi’s reasons for writing it www.jodipicoult.com

Hardback and Kindle version available from Amazon The Storyteller

signature

Signed copy of The Storyteller

 

Jodi Picoult book signing in Nottingham

Jodi Picoult book signing in Nottingham

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Book Review: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

Willow O’Keefe had seven broken bones before she took her first breath.

Now her life is lived on a knife-edge.  Born with brittle bone disease, she will never learn to skate like her sister.  Even walking can be dangerous:  one wrong step and she is back in a cast.

The medical bills are crippling her family.  So when a lawyer tells Charlotte, her mother,   that they might have a case to sue for wrongful birth, she feels bound to consider it.

Except that winning would mean losing her best friend – and telling the world that she wishes her much-longed for, adored daughter had never been born…

This was my first experience of Jodi Picoult and I admit it wasn’t out of choice. I was on holiday with my teenage daughter and I had finished 2 others books. It was this or nothing.

I was expecting something aimed at young adults being as my daughter had read so many but now I realise that I was actually missing out and should have picked one up a long time ago.

From my limited experience of Jodi Picoult (now up to 3 read) I see she has a pattern in her writing. I like that each chapter is dedicated to a character as you do get a much more rounded version of events and as you don’t reach the conclusion until the very last page it keeps you guessing until the very end.

Handle with Care is the story of Willow and her family, how they cope with Willow’s brittle bone disease and the court case Willow’s mother Charlotte brings against her best friend Piper and doctor for malpractice. From the very beginning it’s easy and understandable to empathise with Charlotte but the heart of the story is does she make the right decisions? And in her shoes would we make the same decisions and choices that she does? This is what Picoult does best – she makes us put ourselves in her characters positions and imposes these moral dilemmas on the reader.

Willow never knew any different but was just making the most and best of what she had, I loved it when she went to the conference and was mixing with other kids just like her..something which made her feel accepted and not excluded. I had to sympathise with Amelia and her struggle for a normal life and to have her mothers love and attention and I was hoping in the end that there maybe a reconciliation between Charlotte and Piper.

Oh the recipes – I appreciate that these were included to embellish Charlotte’s cooking talent but I did find these a little tedious and tended to skip over these and haven’t been tempted to bake any!

Overall, a really good read. I think Picoult likes to educate her readers aswell, I learned alot about the condition from this book.