Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes is an emotional, educational thriller. In addressing the tragedy of mass shootings at school, Picoult does a great job illustrating the experiences of many sides of the tragedy, while showing how each major player got to where they were when it happened. The way she goes between the present, the day of, and the past, tells a vivid, complex story.
Peter is a high school junior who has been bullied for his entire school career. Smaller than boys his age and sensitive, Peter is constantly verbally and physically abused. The school, which doesn’t have a bullying policy, does nothing to his tormentors. His parents, distracted by the loss of his older brother and unable to relate to Peter, have no idea how to help.
Until sixth grade, Peter’s only real friend is a girl named Josie. Josie’s mom Alex is a judge who doesn’t have time to be a mom and her dad is long gone. Feeling alone, Josie can’t refuse the pull of popularity, even if it means turning her back on Peter.
One cataclysmic episode of bullying pushes Peter over the edge. When he is done, 10 children are dead.
The end of the book was a shocker and seemed so plausible I was mad at myself for not considering it before the big reveal.
One slight complaint I have with the book, and it doesn’t matter to the greatness of the story, is there is a bit of unnecessary happiness at the end. While the detail was itself realistic, I would have liked the ending to be emotional and thought provoking. I didn’t need or want the bit of happiness intended by the detail I’m complaining about. Sometimes, we need to be left with the rawness of a story.
Nineteen Minutes is truly a great book. If you like complex characters and you aren’t afraid of an emotional tale–you will love Nineteen Minutes.