A SPARK OF LIGHT

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Jodi Pi­coult ALLEN & UN­WIN, $33 Pi­coult steps into the mine­field of the US abortion rights de­bate with an an­gry father open­ing fire in a re­pro­duc­tive health clinic. A hostage cri­sis en­snares a doc­tor, nurses and ad­min staff, along with a woman there to ter­mi­nate a preg­nancy, an older woman at­tend­ing a check-up, an anti-abortion pro­tester pre­tend­ing to be preg­nant and school­girl Wren seek­ing con­tra­cep­tion. The sce­nario be­comes more com­plex when Wren’s father is called in as the hostage ne­go­tia­tor. Pi­coult starts with the drama of the siege and works back­wards to build insight into the char­ac­ters locked in the clinic. Her at­ten­tion to de­tail in pro­vid­ing med­i­cal facts of preg­nancy and abortion, US laws, the pro-life view­point and the emo­tion of the un­fold­ing events can’t help but spark de­bate on the rights of a preg­nant woman ver­sus those of an un­born child. And in typ­i­cal Pi­coult fash­ion, there’s a twist at the end. CARINA BRUCE VERDICT: Emo­tional

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