Nineteen Minutes: Book Review

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Jodi Picoult has written a fascinating novel about school shootings, a topic that has been on our minds and in the news too often these days. In this story, we learn about the life of Peter Houghton and his struggles through his years in public school. He was overwhelmed with being bullied and with the expectations of living up to his older brother’s standards. As a young boy, Peter was good friends with Josie Cormier and as the years passed, Josie fell temptation to becoming part of the popular crowd and left Peter behind. Peter quickly became the boy that all the popular kids picked on, day in and day out. Josie, unfortunately, was a part of that crowd. She never actually did the bullying, but she never stopped it either. She was happy being the popular girl and didn’t want to risk her reputation for Peter. Eventually, Peter’s anger filled him and he went to school with two loaded weapons and began shooting. As the story unfolds, Peter gets put on trial and the reader learns about his life and personal struggles. Picoult did an amazing job of connecting with Peter’s feelings and showing the reader the true, yet sad, effects bullying has on teenagers today.

I read this book because a fellow educator suggested it. As I began reading, I found myself struggling to remember characters and their relatives within the story. Picoult often jumps between characters and scenes, making it somewhat difficult for the reader to follow. However, as I got further into the book, the relationships were clarified and I couldn’t put it down. As one would expect, I thought I would feel compassion for the victims of the shooting. Of course, I did, but I was surprised at how much sympathy I felt for Peter. Before the results of his trial were revealed, I found myself wishing that he would not be sentenced to life in prison. After reading this story, I truly believe it is one that everyone should read. It teaches an important life lesson and has greatly impacted my life.

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