Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Let me tell you why I chose this book- my research paper for grad school is about challenged books, specifically dealing with controversial content. Duh, you say. That's why all books are challenged- because something in them is controversial. Well, yes. I say, Duh, back to you. I know. My research entails 11 years of complaints dealing with the top 10 books (ALA compiles this each year) and the reasons given for the challenges. While doing this research I decided that perhaps it would be interesting to read the books that were on the list or I cam across in my research to see if I agreed with the reasons. One of the newspaper articles I found and that I used in my paper refers to Picoult's book, Nineteen Minutes, and it's inappropriate material for 14 year old students. So, I borrowed a copy from the library....

Nineteen Minutes is about how long it takes for something to happen..."In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game.." That's how Picoult starts off this book. Catchy, isn't it? I've never thought about how long it takes to do something..not really. It took Peter Houghton only 19 minutes to seriously change his life, and the lives of so many others. It's a subject that no one wants to think about and no parent wants to even imagine. A school shooting. Caused by the acts of bullying, adults not caring and overlooking, and a kid who'd had enough. But, is it their fault or his? I know, I know. He pulled the trigger..repeatedly. But, is it ALL his fault? Can't some of the blame be put on those who bullied him his whole life, his parents who didn't 'see' him and compared him to his now dead brother. The book is very interesting from the beginning. It captures your attention with a suicide note. You think, Oh, man. Then Picoult pieces the characters together. From the very beginning of the how the mom's met, to how the best friends Peter and Josie became strangers. It makes you think of what would you do in this situation. How would you react if your child was the murderer; what if your child was the victim; what if your child was the victim and the murderer? It's one of those books you don't forget. As a parent to a toddler it definitely made me think- She's not going to school, ever. But that's not reasonable or practical.
Picoult likes to throw in some plot twists. Like, Josie. The character Josie- I hated. I wished she had died. She's that- bitchy. I hate ruining books for people so I'll just say, She gets what she deserves. The characters I liked the best were- the detective, Patrick. He seemed to be, real. He was portrayed as a good detective and a great man. And he had a bit of a Law & Order detective vibe too. I also liked Peter's lawyer, Jordan. He was good. He had the hardest job of the whole book. Drawing you in to Peter's story. And he does it. He does it so well that you think he's going to win. He doesn't. I'll tell you that. Peter doesn't get off from the charges legally but, in another way, a more morbid way..he does.
I recommend this book. It was great from beginning to end. I think it's a good learning tool for high school students. It would give them an opening for talking about bullying, school shootings, sex, abuse, and so many more topics.

5 out of 5 stars!