A Spark of Light

12 CDs. Books on Tape. Oct. 2018. 14:30 hrs. ISBN 9781984828118. $45. digital download. F
It's a typically hot summer day in Jackson, MS, and 15-year-old Wren McElroy and her aunt Bex are going to the Women's Reproductive Health Services Clinic to get birth control pills for Wren. Suddenly shots ring out when a disgruntled father takes everyone in the clinic hostage. Time is presented backward hour-by-hour, which makes audio the ideal format to follow the sometimes confusing action. Things ratchet up with the appearance of police hostage negotiator Hugh McElroy (father of Wren and brother of Bex). Descriptions of the primary characters are well drawn, and the varying degrees of terror each person experiences are palpable. Most fascinating is Dr. Louie Ward, a religious man who performs abortions following his own religious philosophy. Narrator Bahni Turpin skillfully presents the diverse cast with male characters as well rendered as the female ones.
VERDICT Turpin's narration enhances the complex story. Picoult herself presents the author's note in which she relates the history of abortion in America, including many statistics, and concludes with her hopes for the future. ["Excellent for book clubs, this should also be considered for discussions in critical thinking and political debate": LJ 10/1/18 starred review of the Ballantine hc.]

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