Review: Nineteen Minutes
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens–until the day its complacency is shattered by an act of violence. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened before her very own eyes–or can she? 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 asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else, and whether anyone is ever really who they seem to be.
Surprisingly this was my first Picoult book and I absolutely loved it. I have no idea what took me so long to pick up one of her books. I think I ran across the book trailer for Nineteen Minutes while I was watching the movie trailer for My Sister’s Keeper (which by the way is definitely on my TBR list). I’m actually a little mad at myself because I went out and watched the movie before I read the book which I hate doing because I always feel that ruins the book a little bit. But there’s no use crying over spilled milk and what’s done is done.
Anyways onto the book review.
Once I started reading this book I just couldn’t put it down. I like how she told the story by going back and forth between the past and the present. I’ve read a few books where authors try to do it, but the result is a convoluted mess. Picoult actually does a fabulous job jumping between the past and the present and I actually enjoyed the way the story was unfolded. The whole time you’re reading the book you’re wondering what in the world lead to this terrible mess.
Picoult did an amazing job capturing both sides of the story—the victims and the murderer (who in a way was also a victim). Many times when we read about a school shooting and murder in general, we’re quick to assume that the murder is at fault without questioning the reason behind his or actions and what lead him or her to carry out those actions.
Picoult developed and fleshed out Peter’s character really well and showed the readers what pushed him over the edge and forced him to commit such an act of violence. The readers could see that Peter wasn’t just a monster that randomly brought guns to school one day and killed a number of students, but he was also a victim to many years of bullying. She made the readers feel sympathetic towards Peter and even though you know he’s guilty of committing a horrendous crime, you couldn’t help but hope that he’ll get a happy ending because he more than anyone else deserves it.
I’m always shocked when I read books about bullying and school shooting. I guess it’s because I went to a small high school (there were only about 600 students total and 150 in my graduating class) and everyone pretty much knew everyone else. I never witnessed anyone being bullied or experienced it myself, so when I read about it in such excruciating detail it makes me think that this could never happen in real life. But then I’ll turn on the TV and watch the news and I’ll see it happening right there in front of my eyes. It’s just shocking to see how people can treat each other in such a cruel manner.
The book really makes you think about how your actions affect other people. It definitely brought me back to high school and made me think if I turned a blind eye towards someone who was reaching out for help or if I was oblivious to others being bullied. While reading the book I couldn’t help but think had one person showed Peter some kindness and sympathy maybe the whole event could have been avoided. And usually that’s all it takes to make a difference in life.