An ordinary day at the so called Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Women come there to get information about how to prevent a pregnancy, others to end an unwelcome one. Protesters outside belong to the everyday work as well as security measures before getting inside. But on this sunny days, things go wrong when a man with a gun walks in to revenge the grand-child he never had. How can these women dare to decide on another person’s life? George Goddard will teach them a lesson. Outside, Hugh McElroy will try everything to keep the number of victims low, especially since his sister and daughter are in the Center.
When I started the novel, I was fairly astonished even before getting to the first chapter: the novel is told from the end and starts in the late afternoon of that day. This is quite an interesting idea and admittedly I had some doubts if this might actually work out. But it does and suspense is not diminished at all, since there is still a lot to be revealed even when going through the story the wrong way around.
I read other novels of Jodi Picoult before and again, the author did completely fulfil my expectations. She once more chose a highly controversial topic to which you cannot find an easy solution. The women as well as the doctors who are in the Center at the moment the shooter enters all have their individual stories that led them there: a pro-life activist in disguise, a nurse who doubts her boyfriend’s motivation of marrying her and who wants to offer him the possibility of going on in life without her, another young woman who herself had to grow up knowing how it feels if you are not loved and only a burden, a girl who just wants to get a pill – you don’t feel like they didn’t think about what they do before they decided to go to the Center on that day. But the situation between life and death – their life and death – puts the decision they had taken to another test. Especially poignant is the constellation of having the detective in charge’s daughter in the clinic. This adds another very personal aspect to the whole story.
It is not a story about pro-life vs. abortion advocates. Even though this is the initial starting point, Picoult focuses on the individual characters and their respective situation. Neither does she put their decision to the test nor excuse any decision taken. It could have been another connecting element that brings those characters together, what they experience is the moment in life where all could be over and when you inevitably have to question yourself about what is important for you and if it has been worth living. I really like her style of wiring and particularly the characters she creates, thus for me, another remarkable novel not to be missed.