My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - over 2 days
Pages - 352
Publisher - Ballantine Books
Source - Watersones (I think)
Blurb from Goodreads
The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.
After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.
But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester disguised as a patient, who now stands in the cross hairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.
Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.
We open at five pm, in The Center, a place for women's reproductive health (among other things) and very much known for the place where abortions take place. It has seen many things, every day it encounters the protesters, today is different, today we have a gun man, a hostage situation and it is late in the day. Wren is fifteen and contemplating death/dying, something before today had not been in her priorities or mind. We meet George Goddard - the gun man, Hugh McElroy - the negotiator, Janine, Izzy, Bex, Louie Ward, Olive, Joy, Harriet & Vonita - all characters who have been in The Center or are when the gun man changes everyone's lives.
The story has no chapters, we have time stamps as we go back and forth on the day but also prior to the day as we get some back story on the characters. It took me a wee bit to settle to this format, Picoult is a great writer and she does make it work but it did take a bit of getting used to and distracting at some parts. The story captures the reader very quickly as we know from the offset the situation and as we delve in we get a bit more info of the characters and what has transpired prior to five pm.
You know from the blurb abortion features in the book, it is the centre of the attack. I don't think I was prepared for the detail of the abortion parts, I just didn't think it would be as graphic. It isn't a huge part of the book but the parts it does feature it is explicit and I had to put the book down for a wee bit and go back to it so just an FYI for anyone picking it up.
There are so many themes to this one, Picoult always does a great job highlighting prejudices, judging people and showing different sides of the coin. It is a book that gives food for thought and will push on some of the emotive feels for most if not all readers. This is not a book for the faint hearted, anything featuring abortion and extremism, double standards, murder will always evoke strong emotions. It also looks at families, relationships, what leads people to abortion, actions and consequences, life, death, love - it has a lot going on! I always enjoy Picoult books, she has a way of getting under the readers skin and making them question their own opinions/judgements. I felt the ending came to quick and I was left a big hanging and whilst it isn't on any major things I just like to know everything, 3.5/5 for me this time. I have read Picoult before and have a few of hers on my tbrm, I think this will be a marmite book and certainly controversial