January Reads

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Book 1:
"A Spark of Light" by Jodi Picoult
As usual for Picoult, "A Spark of Light" is controversial and timely, dealing with issues of abortion and gun control. One afternoon, a man opens fire at an abortion clinic in Mississippi, taking everyone inside hostage. Hugh, a police hostage negotiator, rushes to the scene, only to find out that his daughter is inside, texting him for help. The book progresses in reverse, going back hour by hour, telling multiple characters' stories to reveal how each of them ended up there in the first place.

Rating this one three stars. It could be two ("okay") but I'd hate to do that with a Picoult book. She's my favorite! I knew the format of this book before I started. It sounded like it'd be a good idea but at times it actually made it confusing and repetitive. I wish it could have flashed back to the actual "beginning" and went forward from there, or perhaps just longer jumps rather than one hour.

I do give Picoult credit, though, in keeping each character's story consistent throughout the flashbacks. They fit together well. And of course, there's a classic Picoult twist. As I neared the end, I wondered if there wouldn't be one, but she delivers.

Overall, I felt like it tried too hard and didn't feel like as much of a balanced argument as she usually presents, but it had its moments.

Rating: 3/5

Book 2:
"An Unwanted Guest" by Shari Lapena
There are ten guests at Mitchell's Inn for their own kind of weekend getaway. Some are couples, some are friends, and some are on their own. A snowstorm kicks in during their first night, knocking out the electricity and all cell service, so the guests are left to mingle with one another. All is well until the morning when one of the guests is found dead at the bottom of a staircase. Because there's no service, no one can call the police. Was it an accident? Or did someone do this on purpose? Things only get worse from there.

While the writing and dialogue aren't the best (I enjoyed Lapena's "The Couple Next Door" much more than this one), the storyline is pretty interesting. With so many characters, I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep them all straight, but it was never an issue. Details are gradually revealed, and it all fits together. I enjoyed the last one-third or so the most, as it was more fast-paced.

Rating: 3/5

Book 3:
"That Kind of Mother" by Rumaan Alam
After giving birth to her first child and being overcome with both love and overwhelming responsibility, Rebecca Stone asks her nurse at the hospital, Priscilla, to work as her nanny, and she agrees. Rebecca is grateful for the help, and the two women quickly bond. A few years later, Priscilla gets pregnant herself and dies during childbirth. Rebecca adopts Priscilla's baby, raising both her white son and Priscilla's black son together as brothers.

I'm not sure what else I can say plot-wise. This book felt very... subtle. The timeline progressed, but I didn't feel like the characters or storylines really did. I kept waiting for something more to happen.

I wish the race factor was explored more in depth. It was definitely called out, and there were conversations between Rebecca and Priscilla's daughter that I found really interesting. There wasn't much beyond that. The summary on Goodreads says Rebecca "confronts" parts of her privilege; I don't think she confronts it at all.

A sweet story that unfortunately didn't do much for me.

Rating: 2/5

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