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A Spark of Light Summary & Study Guide Description
A Spark of Light Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
The following version of the book was used to create this guide: Picoult, Jodi. A Spark of Light. Ballantine Books, 2018.
Picoult’s novel is told in reverse chronological order, starting at 5:00 p.m. and moving backward hour by hour to 8:00 a.m. The epilogue of the novel then takes place at 6:00 p.m.
The novel begins with Wren being the only hostage left in the Center. Olive is dead and the rest have been released. Hugh has been talking to George for hours. At this point, his superiors are aware that Hugh’s daughter is in the building, but Hugh believes he is close to reaching a solution and has been able to convince them to allow him to stay on the case.
Janine is taken to the police station to answer questions about the incident. She worries that they will find out the real reason she was at the Center. At the police station, she sees Joy being questioned in another room. She believes Joy will need some help. Joy thinks Janine should not be alone either, so they go back to Joy’s apartment together. While there, Janine admits that she plans to keep protesting abortion. Joy nearly asks her to leave, then shows her an ultrasound picture of the baby she aborted. Janine stays and they sit quietly together.
Izzy is at the hospital having an ultrasound to check on her unborn baby. Parker arrives at the hospital and she tells him she is pregnant. Meanwhile, Bex wakes up in the hospital after surgery and Louie lies in bed dreaming about his mother having died from an illegal abortion. Beth is also in the hospital awaiting prosecution for having had an illegal abortion.
Hugh knocks on the door of the Center and asks George to think about his daughter. When George says Hugh would not understand, Hugh asks George to help him to understand. George points his gun at Wren and pulls the trigger.
At 4:00 p.m. Hugh is still talking to George and has not yet told his superiors that Wren is inside. Bex is at the hospital. The rest of the hostages are still inside. Olive is dead. Janine thinks about her brother Ben, who has Down syndrome. He is the reason she is against abortion. Louie thinks about his reasons for having become an abortion provider. He was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to do something for others and wanted to help women like his mother. Joy thinks about having gotten pregnant by a man she met in the airport lounge where she works. She had an abortion later than she wanted to because she could not get the money together faster. Wren reveals to George that her father is the negotiator he has been talking to. Beth finds out that the prosecutor on her case is known for having prosecuted a teenage girl for killing her baby by using cocaine even though the baby was born with the cord wrapped around its neck. George tells Hugh that Olive is dead. Hugh pretends that Wren is in the clinic to have an abortion.
At 3:00 p.m. Hugh texts Wren to find out if she is alright. Wren had been hiding in a closet but was found and is now with the rest of the hostages. Izzy tells Wren that Bex got out. George brings Olive into the waiting room, too. Bex is in an ambulance on her way to the hospital. Beth tells Mandy about the circumstances of her abortion. Hugh tells George his daughter Lil has been listening the news and heard about George killing a civilian in Bosnia. George becomes angry because the death happened when he tried to save a girl from being raped by the man. Olive comes up with an idea for the hostages to plan their escape by writing on toilet paper in the bathroom. They decide to trip George and grab his gun. When Janine trips him, he drops the gun. As he reaches for it, Wren stabs his hand with a scalpel. He grabs the gun and aims it at Wren. Olive dives in front of Wren and is shot.
At 2:00 p.m. Izzy takes Bex out of the Center in a wheelchair, then goes back inside. Hugh finds out Wren is at the Center for birth control. Izzy tends to Louie who shares his theory that the anti-abortion movement is racially motivated. Janine wakes up after having been knocked out by George. She and Joy discuss Joy’s decision to have an abortion because she grew up in foster care and did not want the same for her child. Olive and Wren are hiding in a closet. Mandy tells Beth that she may be prosecuted for murder. Beth does not understand why because abortion is legal in Mississippi. George hears a sneeze from the closet and finds Wren and Olive.
At 1:00 p.m. Bex is lying on the floor in the Center. She has been shot and wishes she had told Hugh she was taking Wren to the Center. George is feeling uncertain of what to do next. Wren is hiding in the closet thinking about how her decision to be responsible ended up getting her in trouble. Joy worries that George will shoot her first because she just had an abortion. Izzy tries to take care of Bex’s wound. She convinces George to let her get some medical equipment and hides a scalpel from him. Janine tries to tell George she is also an anti-abortionist. He hits her with his gun and knocks her out. Olive thinks being in the waiting room by everyone else would be easier because she would be able to see what is going on. A judge comes to Beth’s hospital room and sets bail. Hugh uses the media cameras to show George there are no snipers or SWAT around the building in exchange for one prisoner being released. George tells Izzy to choose someone to send out. She chooses Bex.
At noon Hugh arrives at the clinic and secures the scene. Bex is lying on the floor after being shot. Hugh questions Rachel, who made the 911 call. Joy is in a recovery room when the shooting starts. She goes into the hall then locks herself in another room. George makes Izzy help him round everyone up and bring them to the waiting room. Izzy sees Wren and Olive in the closet but lies to George and tells him it is empty. Izzy takes care of Louie, who has been shot in the leg, and Bex. Janine thinks the shooting is her fault because she had an abortion after being raped when she was young. She believes God is punishing her. Hugh worries that negotiation will take too long and Bex will die but he also knows that rushing in could get Wren killed. He calls George and asks what he wants. George tells him he wants his grandchild back.
At 11:00 a.m. Wren is sitting in the waiting room of the Center waiting to get birth control. Olive is sitting in the waiting room after talking to the nurse practitioner and is upset by what she was told. Izzy is vomiting in the bathroom. Joy is in the recovery room. George is sitting in his truck. He takes a gun from the glove compartment and walks toward the Center. Wren is eavesdropping on a conversation Vonita is having when George presses the button to be let in. Janine is on the ultrasound table trying to avoid having the procedure while also trying to get the social worker to try to convince her to have an abortion. George enters the Center and shoots Bex. Olive pulls Wren into the closet to hide. Izzy comes out of the bathroom and sees Bex has been shot and Vonita is dead. Beth is in the hospital when two police officers come in and arrest her. Wren tries to reach Hugh via text. Hugh is at the police station talking to the Chief about an unrelated matter. Louie is writing notes in Joy’s chart when he hears the gunshots. The gunman comes in and kills the nurse practitioner, Harriet, and shoots Louie in the leg. Izzy enters the room and prevents the gunman from shooting Louie again by placing herself in front of him and telling George she is pregnant.
At 10:00 a.m. Bex and Wren arrive at the Center. Bex plans to wait in the car until protestors approach Wren. She decides to go in with her niece. Hugh arrives at the police station where his colleagues have planned a birthday celebration for him. Olive has talked to Harriet about the results from her oncologist and knows she is dying. Beth’s father leaves her hospital room. Beth admits to the nurse she knew she was pregnant and that she tried to go to the Center for an abortion but could not because she had to have a hearing with a judge first because of her age. Janine is in the exam room trying to think of a way to get out of having an ultrasound since she is not pregnant. She is only there trying to get evidence that the Center is doing something illegal. Louie is performing an abortion on Joy. He chats with her to relax her.
At 9:00 a.m. Hugh is processing a stolen car case. Wren lies about having cramps to get out of health class to go to the Center with Bex. Olive tells her wife Peg goodbye before going to the Center. Louie arrives at the clinic and greets Vonita. Joy sits waiting to have her procedure. Beth wakes up in the hospital confused about how she got there. Her father is with her. She tells the nurse, Jayla, that she did not know she was pregnant. Her father gets angry and leaves. Janine enters the Center wearing a wig as a disguise. Izzy arrives late to the Center and comes in just as Louie is sitting down to talk to the patients. Louie tells the women about the procedure and answers questions. George finds a pamphlet from the Center in his daughter’s room.
At 8:00 a.m. Wren makes breakfast for Hugh and wishes him a happy birthday. Janine wakes up and prepares to go to the Center by putting on a wig. Olive lays in bed looking at Peg thinking about Peg having to live without her. Joy wakes up after dreaming about holding a baby. She calls for an Uber to take her to the clinic. Izzy leaves work at the hospital ER to head to the Center hoping to make it in time for her appointment. Louie gets on a plane headed for Mississippi. He travels the country providing abortion services. He is met at the airport by a protestor named Allen. They sit down and have breakfast together. Beth is in her bathroom experiencing cramps and heavy bleeding. George breaks in after she passes out and takes her to the emergency room. Bex takes out a box of items from when she gave birth to Hugh 40 years ago. Afterward, her family had moved, and Hugh was raised as her brother.
At 6:00 p.m. when Wren leaves the Center, George takes a shot at her. Hugh shoots George. Wren and Hugh leave the scene to go to Bex in the hospital. Before leaving, Wren tears down an anti-abortion sign and tears it until only the word “choice” remains. She hangs the word on the Center’s fence.
This section contains 1,934 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)