Tuesday, 25 September 2018

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Picoult doesn't shy away from difficult topics or from premises which have the sole purpose of making readers think, talk to and engage with each other. Combined with her excellent writing skills, this is why she is such a popular author.

There is an active shooter in an reproductive health clinic. He isn't interested in the hostages and their personal stories, he just wants an eye for an eye, or perhaps a few eyes for an eye. The hostage negotiator finds out during the negotiations that the shooter has already killed, is willing to kill more people, and that his daughter and sister are two of the hostages.

Every type of situation and woman from both sides of the argument are represented. Not every woman in a sexual health clinic is there for an abortion, which is only a small part of reproduction and women's health. The staff of these clinics and the patients have to run the gauntlet of well-meaning, at least in their opinion, often aggressive and sometimes hypocritical protesters to enter these clinics to be treated. When I say hypocritical I mean the stance of pro-life women who need and get an abortion, then return to protesting against another woman's right to choose.

The greatest paradox is pro-lifers insulting, assaulting, bombing clinics and killing people in reproductive clinics. People who believe that the life of an embryo or foetus supersedes the rights of the woman carrying them. People who believe in the sanctity of life condone killing in the name of their cause.

This book is about one of the most controversial topics and is especially relevant at this moment in time, as abortion laws are being redefined and challenged. It's like two speeding trains moving towards each other on a collision course, as pro-lifers try to take abortion laws back into the middle-ages and pro-choicers are trying to get women the rights they deserve. As I write this the Republicans are trying skew the decision making of the Supreme Court by giving a lifetime appointment to a judge who will most likely tip the scales in favour of overturning Roe vs Wade. (In the back of the book Picoult references some of the narrow-minded abortion laws Mike Pence has been trying to box through in the last few years)

I have to absolutely give the author her dues for presenting both sides of the argument in a calm non-judgemental manner. There is no sway on her part towards either side, and she presents the positive and negative of both pro-life and pro-choice. Right down to the physical medical details and the often convoluted reasoning that comes with this emotional topic.

It is statistically proven that when the laws on abortion become more stringent they do not reduce the number of abortions, instead the amount of women and young girls risking their lives with illegal and dangerous procedures rises. Contraception isn't 100% fail-safe, albeit often because of human error, and celibacy is a nonsensical demand.

Although they demand to control the reproductive decisions of all women, echoing elements of The Handmaid's Tale, the pro-lifers aren't standing in line to adopt unwanted babies and children. They aren't taking foster children into their homes, because this is just about the patriarchal system controlling women and religious beliefs controlling the choices women can make. Why would you insist that a woman give birth to the product of rape? Why would you demand a child burdened with the product of incest give birth? Why would you force any woman to relinquish control of her body?

How about we make vasectomies mandatory for men as soon as they have fathered a certain number of children? Or thinking like a pro-lifer, let's demand each male be subject to a set of laws which determines and controls their reproductive health. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

I will be recommending this book not only because it is a good read, but because it presents the whole picture including the facts and scenarios both sides think are important and those they refuse to acknowledge. It's one of those books I could go on and on about, which is always a sign of a great read. All I can say is once again Picoult touches on the most emotive topics and engages her readers with undeniable expertise.

Buy A Spark of Light at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, Pub. date. 30 October 2018
Follow @jodipicoult @HodderBooks
Visit jodipicoult.com

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