Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Synopsis:In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, colour your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five….In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it.

In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

Nineteen Minutes is New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult‘s most raw, honest, and important novel yet. Told with the straightforward style for which she has become known, it asks simple questions that have no easy answers: Can your own child become a mystery to you? What does it mean to be different in our society? Is it ever okay for a victim to strike back? And who – if anyone – has the right to judge someone else?
Genre:Literature & Fiction
Comments:This is the third Jodi Picoult book I have read and I was not disappointed. I love the way Jodi writes in first person, jumping from character to character and from past to present. This can be confusing for those unused to her style, but life is rarely linear and the different perspectives enhance our understanding of the story, allowing us to empathise with different characters and preventing us from pre-judging behaviour.

Nineteen Minutes is an emotional look at the lead up and aftermath of a columbine-style school shooting. Picoult, however, has her shooter survive, allowing us to explore the effect of this event on the lives of the shooter and his family as well as those of the victims. It is often easy to lay blame when such a tragedy occurs, so easy to forget that the shooters family are as much victims as anyone else.

I found this book very scary. We cannot protect our children from being bullied, and we cannot always know what they are thinking or feeling. It is frightening to think that our children could have been any one of the characters in this book – the bullies, picking on those more sensitive than themselves; the girl pretending to be someone she is not, in order to fit in; the shooter himself – and we would be none the wiser.

I definitely recommend this book to parents, teens and anyone who finds themselves quick to judge on the basis of a news story alone…

Categories: Impressions

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1 reply


  1. books I read in 2008 « Rafferty's Rules

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