Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nineteen Minutes

As I told you in my last review, Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult was next on my list.  I really like Picoult books (author of Sisters Keeper and many other great ones); she has a way of writing about tough issues in a way that leads one to discuss it with anyone and everyone.  Plus, I am always a bit surprised at some point in the story.  I LOVE an unpredictable story.  Nineteen Minutes was no different from Picoult's other great books; tough issues were presented in a fabulously fictional story and I was taken by surprise near the end.  I really enjoyed this story.  

I think I would give Picoult a 5 out of 5 stars for Nineteen Minutes.  This novel is well written, well paced, and causes you to become invested and truly care for the characters.  The only negative thing some people would claim about this books is that it is about a tough and depressing topic.  This book is not an uplifting book, but it has caused me to think about this book and my life at a deeper level.

The St. Louis Post had this to say about Picoult's books, "Jodi Picoult's books explore all the shades of gray in a world too often judged in black and white."  I think this this statement perfectly describes Picoult books to a T.  If you have never read one of her books, go pick one up today.  Picoult truly does have an amazing way of writing fabulous stories dealing with complex issues that you once thought were simply black or white.  However, you quickly find yourself thinking about all of the gray in the middle of that issue.  Picoult has a way with writing stories and characters with such depth and emotion that you feel their pain, excitement, and every other emotion in between.  Picoult has a way with writing a story where you see both points of view and you aren't sure how you feel about the issue anymore.  Picoult just has a way with writing these kinds of stories.  I'm not sure of another author that writes about such complex issues so well and yet so entertaining at the same time.

Picoult's website has the following synopsis of Nineteen Minutes:

"In Sterling, New Hampshire, 17-year-old high school student Peter Houghton has endured years of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of classmates. His best friend, Josie Cormier, succumbed to peer pressure and now hangs out with the popular crowd that often instigates the harassment. One final incident of bullying sends Peter over the edge and leads him to commit an act of violence that forever changes the lives of Sterling’s residents.

Even those who were not inside the school that morning find their lives in an upheaval, including Alex Cormier. The superior court judge assigned to the Houghton case, Alex—whose daughter, Josie, witnessed the events that unfolded—must decide whether or not to step down. She’s torn between presiding over the biggest case of her career and knowing that doing so will cause an even wider chasm in her relationship with her emotionally fragile daughter. Josie, meanwhile, claims she can’t remember what happened in the last fatal minutes of Peter’s rampage. Or can she? And Peter’s parents, Lacy and Lewis Houghton, ceaselessly examine the past to see what they might have said or done to compel their son to such extremes. Nineteen Minutes also features the return of two of Jodi Picoult’s characters—defense attorney Jordan McAfee from The Pact and Salem Falls, and Patrick DuCharme, the intrepid detective introduced in Perfect Match.
Rich with psychological and social insight, Nineteen Minutes is a riveting, poignant, and thought-provoking novel that has at its center a haunting question. Do we ever really know someone?"
Jodi Picoult wrote a fabulous story.  I found myself in pain for the bullying Peter experienced, sad for Alex and Josie struggling as a family, mad at Josie's boyfriend, heartbroken for Peter's parents, shocked by Josie's actions, and so much more.  I found myself concerned for my children and how others would treat them.  I'm concerned for my children and the relationship we have and will have.  I daily discussed topics found in this book with my husband.  We discussed how you can have a relationship with a teenage son or daughter w/o being overbearing.  We discussed how you stay involved in their lives but letting them have some independence.  We discussed how we'd attempt to handle extreme bullying.  We discussed a lot of things.  I don't think we have anything figured out, but at least we've discussed it.  The more complex the issue the more gray can be found.  There are too many variables that can change things.  You can't say we'll do this or that b/c it really depends on the child and external circumstances/situations.  You can't say anything is definite, but you can have a better idea about what you might or could do.
Before I decided to stay home with my kids I was a school librarian.  I've been a librarian at all of the various levels.  I've seen mean kids at the elementary school, middle school, and high school level.  I was also a librarian in Colorado not far from Columbine high school.  If you are interested I did a quick review of the Columbine book here.  In lieu of the Aurora theater shooting and even the school shooting just recently as well as my previous work experience I was intrigued with this book's topic.  School shootings and bullying are sensitive topics for me.  
I'm glad I read Nineteen Minutes; I hope others will read it.  School shootings are scary, but they happen.  The only thing we can do is love our kids, help them see their worth and value, and pray a lot.  School shootings change life's, and they don't always change the life's of those directly involved in the shooting.  Shootings impact entire communities and many more people indirectly related.  Shootings and acts of violence like such change people and affect them for a long long time.  I know a few people that were at Columbine High School back in 1999; every single one of those people are still affected by that day.  As Peter said in the book, "It's not a game" and "No one wins."  
Nineteen Minutes is not a light hearted book, but it is an extremely thought provoking and fabulously written story.  This may not be the kind of story you want to read at the beginning of a school year, but go and check it out sooner rather than later.  You won't regret it.   

1 comment:

  1. I also enjoyed it especially the surprise ending. Tough subject matter though: who is the victim?