I don't often read Jodi Picoult's books, but this one caught my eye because of the topic. Most of the action takes place in the only clinic which offers abortions in the State of Mississippi. A gunman bursts in and takes everyone inside hostage. The group is diverse, the doctor who visits regularly to perform abortions, the nurse and social worker who work at the clinic, another nurse who is visiting the clinic, a young girl seeking advice about birth control and her aunt, an older woman struggling with a cancer diagnosis, a young woman who has just had an abortion and another one who is an anti-abortion activist acting under cover to try to obtain damning information about the clinic.
The book unfolds in reverse order (until the epilogue). Every section takes place an hour earlier than the prior section - and through this reverse unfolding of events we learn the backstory of why everyone is in the clinic, including the gunman. We also see events from the perspective of the police hostage negotiator whose daughter and sister happen to be inside the clinic.
Some chapters also take place across the state in a hospital where a 17 year old girl has ended up after attempting to self-terminate her pregnancy. An anti-abortion DA has charged her with murder. She is frightened and alone - and eventually we learn her connection to the hostage crisis.
I really liked how Picoult wove together all the stories - and brought in all sides of this politically charged issue without obviously preaching any one position. She also managed to surprise me with one plot twist related to the hostage negotiator which I really didn't see coming.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.