“ Author: Jodi Picoult / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 15 August 2013 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division / Title: Nineteen Minutes / ISBN 13: 9781444754360 / ISBN 10: 1444754360 „
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Another bestseller from picoult but I am going to be a little bit controversial and say that this book left me a little cold.
I am a huge fan of Picoult and her ability to get you on the side of the character and feel real empathy for them.
But I don't think she managed it with the characters in this book.
The story is that after years of bullying a boy takes a gun into school and shoots all those who make his life miserable.
The twist at the end of the story is that he is not the only perosn who killed on that fateful day. His ex best friend shot her boyfriend in order to protect her friend Peter.
This twist was not believable unfortunately. I think there needed to be more interaction between the 2 characters if this was to happen.
Also, although the characters that are murdered have bullied Peter, and by no means do I justify bullying, but I struggle to have empathy with Peter because Picoult didn't really go into the abuse he faced on a daily basis, just that it happened. Also, he shows no remorse for what he has done. He simply says 'they started it.'
I would well recommend this book for a discussion group, because it definitely stirs different things in different people.
I will read this again for sure, and see if my opinion changes.
I read this book in April 2007 and was utterly caught up by it. I have read a few of Picoult's books and although I couldn't read her stuff back to back, I do like them from time to time.
Picoult's books all tend to be very hard hitting and certainly leave you thinking "what would I do?" And this one is no different
The story follows Peter. A kid who is bullied throughout school and ends up taking a gun in one day and shooting a load of classmates. The story is absolutely shocking and it flicks between the court case (Picoult loves a court case chapter or two!) and flashbacks of peters bullied past.
The book is hard to read, at least it was for me as I didn't have a particularly great time at school and so I really connected with the boy.
The story is heart wrenching. Peter has one friend in junior school, Josie, but she soon becomes popular when they move on to high school and she turns her back on peter. Although she never actively takes part in the bullying of Peter, she turns a blind eye while her "in crowd" friends do.
Despite the shocking content of this book, I absolutely loved it, and I went on to read it again in 2011 and I have just finished it for the third time today
As I right this review I have come over all cold and covered in goosebumps and that is a perfect description of how I felt throughout
I recommend this book to anyone who will listen! It is thought provoking and powerful but is fantastically written. Have the tissues ready though.
I borrowed Nineteen Minutes when I spotted it in the library as it was one of the few books by Jodi Picoult that I haven't read. I was actually at the library with my two year old for a read and rhyme session but this book was displayed on the counter as a book club promotion so I grabbed it when I saw it even though I'm not in a book club! They had plenty of copies so I didn't feel I was doing others out of reading it. The library is the second local library to me and not one I had visited before taking our child to the children's sessions so I was pleasantly surprised that they had this book as it is only a small branch staffed mainly by volunteers. But that's probably a whole other review for the dooyoo lounge!
A bit about
The book begins with some narrative about what you can do in nineteen minutes. Wash your car; colour your hair; sort laundry... but the nineteen minutes refers to something much more sinister. Peter is a teenager with a burden. He's been bullied all his life and is about to bite back. The book jumps straight to the action with peter taking a bag with guns into his high school and unleashing his weapons on anyone that gets in his way.
As usual, Picolt's way of writing draws you in to the story and something which at first appears to be a black and white clear case becomes something that is further examined through a court case. Peter's life is examined from his birth and childhood through to the awkward teenage years. Underneath he's just a normal kid that has been dealt a few tough cards in life.
Timeline and characters
The time line jumps backwards and forwards in the book so you need to pay attention to the chapter headings which all work around the date of the shootings. The chapters are also narrated by different characters so you get a lot of perspectives on this story. Josie is Peter's childhood friend and they were close as young children but when Josie joins the popular kids at school she tries to sever the ties with Peter as he's a bit geeky and someone she is embarrased to call her friend. Josie's mum Alex is a high court judge and a bit of a cold fish with her daughter, so they have a bit of a problematic relationship where Josie feels she can't tell her mum everything. Peter's mum Lacey is a midwife and has lost one of her boys in a car accident so Peter becomes all the more precious to her although she knows he is a bit of a loner she tries to encourage him by getting him to join the football team at school which brings him more misery by way of the locker room and he is never picked to play on the team anyway.
Obviously there have been other high school shootings in America like the one in Columbine which have inspired Picoult to write this novel, but what makes it really interesting is how she tries to get inside the head of the killer and in fact little sympathy is given to the victims in the book, those who are dead and injured and their parents are given little space in this story. It does make for difficult reading at many points in the book, we assume schools are safe places to send our children and yet it only takes one person on the rampage to completely change that safe environment to one of danger. I could never read this book and condone the actions of the killer; that he is guilty is never in doubt but it helped to see what led to his actions and what was going through his mind when he took his revenge.
This has definitely ranked in my top five favourite reads of Picoult. I like how she picks a challenging subject to write about and manages to gain a level of sympathy from the reader for someone who would be villainised in the media. Peter is one of the quiet kids in school and it got me thinking about those who were on the periphery at my school and perhaps how it made them feel when they were bullied by others. Sometimes it's what you see in reflection that makes you think rather that what was going on at the time.
Jodi Picoult is an American writer who has written 18 novels. I have read a lot of these and I think 19 Minutes is one of her best. I read it when it first came out and I just finished reading a second time it this morning.
Jodi Picoult tends to write about events raising moral issues which culminate in a court case, where a twist is often revealed. 19 Minutes does follow this typical formula but that doesn't make it any less gripping. The subject of this book is a high school shooting and we are shown what life is like at Sterling High School before the shooting, in the aftermath and at the end we finally learn all the details of what actually happened during the 19 minutes in which the shooting took place.
The book is written from the point of view of multiple characters, including the shooter, Peter Houghton. I think the Peter sections are really interesting and we see how he has developed throughout his life and how constant bullying from the first day of school at age 5 has slowly changed his personality. Peter is not shown as purely as a bad person who did a terrible crime, but as a normal person who was pushed so far that he became capable of it. Jodi Picoult does not make excuses for his actions but the way she portrays Peter allows you to see him as a victim in his own way. I did feel sympathy for him despite what he had done. The Peter sections give quite a shocking impression of American high school life and the way students are divided into groups of cool and uncool people, which you often see in American TV shows and films. I find it quite fascinating to read about this kind of mini society in high schools with its own rules.
Josie Cormier is another of the main characters. She is the daughter of a local judge who originally wants to be the judge in Peter's case. Josie was friends with Peter when she was younger, but later dropped him as she became part of the "cool" clique and started dating a popular jock. The insights we get into Josie's "cool" friends shown that some are actually pretty horrible people. We see that while Josie is in this group she constantly feels unsure of who she is and is scared that at any moment she could lose her status. She feels desperate to fit in because she doesn't want to end up an outsider who is treated like Peter. This mindset makes her do some questionable things, like joining in with the bullying of Peter. Josie is an interesting character but I think sometimes it would have been nice to understand some of her actions a bit better.
As well as the teenage characters we also have sections from the point of view of Peter's parents, Lacy and Lewis. I find the sections on Lacy particularly good because she really wanted to do the best for her son and believed that she was, but we see how clueless she is throughout and how she sometimes just made things worse for him at school. We also get to know Josie's mum, the judge Alex Cormier. She is not a particularly emotional character and struggles in her relationship with Josie, as she has always focussed on her career and never had a close relationship with her own parents.
The court case is interesting and considers issues like whether Peter acted deliberating and intentionally or whether he was not mentally responsible for his actions. Throughout the court case we slowly find out more about what happened, until the whole truth is finally revealed. I found the twist quite shocking even though I had started to wonder about something similar. I won't say too much about it as I don't want to spoil anything but the twist made me a bit uncomfortable. However, I think this is probably the reaction Jodi Picoult wanted.
In general I was really gripped by this book, even the second time as I had forgotten a lot of the details and could read it again as if it was the first time.
If you like any of Jodi Picoult's other books then this is definitely a good one to read. I would also recommend it to anyone who wants a book which is easy to read and a gripping page turner, but which does really make you think. Jodi Picoult is sometimes labelled chicklit but I don't think I would consider this book to be chicklit at all. It is a sensitive and interesting look at a shocking crime and the society in which it happened.
This book is centred around a school shooting. Peter Houghton has endured a childhood of bullying and abuse at school by the so called popular kids, he was even rejected by his best friend Josie Cormier as she became friends with a group of kids who would constantly bully him. Peter has endured the bullying for years but an incident occurs which finally sends him over the edge, following which he enters his school armed with guns and commits an unimaginable act of violence.
Jodi Picoult has a way of playing with her readers' emotions, she opens the novel with details of the shooting whereby we are typically made to feel sympathy for the victims and hatred for the shooter. As the book develops however she explores the characters individually, we go deeper into the world of each character and she manages to change our opinions by hearing the story from each of them. Within 'Nineteen Minutes' Jodi Picoult explores how such an event could affect so many peoples lives, she primarily seems to focus on the parents involved. She discusses and raises questions about the emotions felt by the parents, in particular Peters (How would you cope if your child committed such an act of violence? Would you blame yourself? What must it feel like to not know your own child?).
There are many twists and turns within the book, so much so I felt like I could not put it down. The main theme which I noticed was 'difference', she brings to light the difference in human nature and questions whether we should succumb to peer pressure by changing who we are just to 'fit in'.
'Nineteen Minutes' I believe is the most emotionally charged of all of Picoult's books that I have read so far. I finished the novel with many questions, it made me think about the current social issues which surround bullying, difference and violence. My favourite books are ones which are able to spark debate and get me thinking, this is a page turner that I definitely reccommend.
As you may have gathered from my past book reviews, I've been converted to Jodi Picoult books (mostly from reviews on here!) and have read a few of her books now. On a recent visit to the library, I saw one which wasn't on the shelf last time around so I thought I might as well give it a try. The author has a strong tendency to tackle issues that are controversial and things are no different here as the main plot revolves around the consequences of a high school shooting. I hesitated at first, unsure as to whether it would be a touch too heavy for my tastes given that I predominantly read chick lit books and have only recently started to branch out into less fluffy reads. If I hadn't already read some of her other work, I probably would have put this back on the shelf but I knew that she had handled controversial issues with sensitivity and emotion in other books and figured I could always take it back if it proved too much.
After a short first-person blurb which reads like a note - presumably from the person responsible for the events that will unfold in the book - the book opens with an series of very shorts paragraphs which are mostly only a single sentence long, of which the final sentence jumped out at me: 'In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge'. This intrigued me, especially given that the inside cover blurb indicates that the plot of the book involves a high school shooting. This sentence is obviously 'spoken' by the instigator but we don't learn who this is. The book properly begins in the next paragraph, where the narrative switches to the third person. I'm used to Jodi Picoult books being written in the first person with chapters devoted to single characters (My Sister's Keeper; Handle With Care etc.) so this took a bit of getting used to. We're introduced to a range of characters in the first chapter before the actual shooting occurs. This introduction doesn't happen in real-time - instead, one of the characters stumbles across the scene in the immediate aftermath, which I suspect is deliberate to conceal the identity of who it is.
The third person narrative works well here because there's no in-depth exploration of why the shooting happened from his viewpoint. This would be extremely difficult and perhaps even impossible unless the author was someone who had done this and knew what it is that possesses people to go on a shooting frenzy. Here, the narrative is less personal than some of her other books and there are no chapters devoted to individual characters as you find in the likes of My Sister's Keeper. Instead, you'll find multiple narratives/viewpoints in the same chapter so one paragraph (or several paragraphs) will focus on one character and switch to another and so on. This keeps up a fast pace as you're frequently switching between various characters. As is typical of Jodi Picoult books, there are chapters that go back into the past. You might expect many of these chapters to focus on Peter to try to offer some understanding of why he acted as he did but they actually delve into the past of other characters like Alex and Josie. Through some of this 'flashbacks', it begins to become more obvious why Peter chose to target particular students, although some still seem random.
Some of the main characters are:
Peter - The boy who turns the gun on his fellow students after enduring years of torment and abuse.
Lacy - Peter's mother, who is unsurprisingly stunned to know that her son could ever be capable of such a crime.
Lewis - Peter's father, whose hunting guns Peter uses to carry out the shootings.
Alex - The judge who is assigned to sit on Peter's case. Her daughter is a student at the high school where Peter opened fire and she is seen by many as being too close to the case.
Josie - Alex's daughter, who is a student at the high school and was at the scene during the shooting. Her boyfriend Matt is one of the students killed in the rampage and to complicate matters, Peter used to be one of her best friends.
Patrick - A policeman who comes across the scene and is understandably schocked and horrified by what he sees. He is in charge of the case.
Jordan - The lawyer who agrees to take on Peter's case despite knowing that it is probably a hopeless task.
So, did I enjoy the book given my initial hesitance to read it? Enjoy is probably the wrong word given the dark subject matter but the book gripped me throughout. There were subtle hints that one of the characters knew more about the shooting than they were letting on and it was this possibility that kept my interest as I was keen to find out if this was the case and how it could fit into the equation. There is a rather big twist right towards the end of the book which I didn't see coming.
It only takes 19 minutes to change a life....
The Plot: Peter Houghton goes to his local high school, just as he attended his local junior school and since his very first day at school, aged 5, he has been bullied. There is something about Peter which makes him different and the other children, who followed him through the school system, pick on him unmercilessly. At first he has his friend, Josie, to stand by him but she soon longs for a more popular experience and pals up with the pretty girls, and dates one of the popular boys. Alone and friendless, one day Peter walks into his High School with four guns. 19 minutes later, 9 students and one teacher are dead, and considerably more are wounded. As the community starts to realise what has happened, the clouds of a trial start gathering. In a small community, feelings run high and whilst there never has been any doubt as to it being Peter who shot everyone, what everyone wants to know is why.
Like in many of her other books, Picoult is an expert at getting you to feel empathy for a character who you don't expect to feel anything for, and making you dislike characters that initially you had sympathy for. The storyline in this book is a difficult one as the subject matter is one which we have seen played out in High Schools around the world. No one will ever be able to fully say why someone wakes up in the morning and takes guns into school to shoot their class mates and I felt the author captured the confusion in a small community. The hardest passages for me to read were for Peter's mother, as she is such a sweet lady and it's so hard for her to understand how her son could do this. The other parts which were hard to read were the descriptions of Peter's bullying. He literally endures 12 years of bullying and in some small way, you can kind of understand why he fights back. I really enjoyed reading this book and read it in a day as I simply couldn't put it down. At some point in the book I felt sympathy for everyone and by the end of the book you really don't know who is in the right and who is in the wrong.
One of Jodi's common literary techniques is to tell the story from different people's point of view. Normally she achieves this by writing in the first person. 19 Minutes detracts from this technique, although she does still tell the story from different time points and people's points of view, the whole story, barring some diary extracts, is written in the third person. In between sections of the book, there are diary entries which, in a typical Jodi Picoult style narrative, appear to be written by one person, but later on is revealed to be by someone else. I always enjoy her style of writing, even in some of the books where the subject matter has been less interesting and the story less gripping - her writing is unique and sets the scene well. I find she writes her characters very well and makes them human - there is no goodie and baddie in her books, instead there are lots of flawed humans. Like most of her other books, this one focus's on a trial but it is well written so that even those without any legal knowledge can still understand what is going on. Again like many of her other books, there is a twist and whilst I did suspect what was going to happen, the big reveal is still a shock.
I always go out of my way to recommend Jodi Picoult's books. She is a prolific American Writer with over 14 books to her name. I have read nearly all of her books and whilst others are okay, some of them shine out and this is definitely one of them.
I had never read any of Jodi Picoult's books until a year ago, then on my way to fly on holiday realized I did't have a book :( So I saw this book "Ninteen Minutes" on the book shop stand. It first captured my interest with the front cover which reads "Your son says the bullying was unbearable. But his revenge was murder. What would you do?"
I have to say I was hooked already and trundling off to the till before even ready the back! I haven't seen a book that asks quite such an intense question on the front.
The story is about a shy boy with few friends who is bullied at school. One day to everyones surprise he goes to school with all guns blazing and kills many. All it took was ninteen minutes. The story goes into details of his family and how he was brought up. Coenciding with this the story details his close friends family life and how the two come together and grow apart in the usual teen dramas.
The ending is not diappointing either - but I will say no more :)
WHAT I THINK
I love this book! It had me captured from the front page and I found it really difficult to put this book down, as I always wanted to read just a little bit more. It makes you think about how easily these things can happen and that blame can not always be preportioned to one person.
I am now making my way through all her books - hoping they are all as good!
This is my second Jodie Picoult book and I was expecting to be disappointed. The author delivered so much in "Keeping Faith" - how could "Nineteen minutes" be of the same standard? I needn't have worried - it met it - and surpassed it.
From the opening you are aware that this is a story about a school killing. The author ponders "what can you do in nineteen minutes?" and then goes on to describe how Peter, a 17 year old high school student, went to school late one day, blew up another student's car and then walked through the school discharging his gun nearly 200 times. At the end of the spree nine students were killed. One teacher dead and 18 others maimed. Phew - all in the first chapter - clearly you are going to hate Peter for what he's done - right? Wrong - as the rest of the story unfolds you get glimpses into Peter's upbringing (perfectly normal) and you see his parents examine their very souls to see what they did wrong. You find out that Peter has never quite fitted in and gradually became a loner - spending hours inventing computer games - like many parents of teenagers you could recognise that they let well alone and accepted the grunted communication.
Peter only had one friend - Josie - and even she began to ignore him by the time he reached the age of around 12. Suddenly she needed to be accepted by her peers, fitting in was more important than being true to herself. So Peter went through High School being bullied every day - and suddenly he snapped.
To tell you any more would ruin the story - suffice to say that there are twists and turns around every corner and I didn't expect the final few pages. Each character is well rounded and you really began to question where your sympathies lie - or should lie. Long after finishing the book I was questioning myself.
I am a huge Jodi Piccoult fan and to date i have not read one of her books i havent loved and would happily recommend to others. I always worry when i get a new Jodi Piccoult book incase it is not as good as the others i have read.
I received this in my Christmas stocking Xmas morning (thanks Father Christmas! ;o)
I started to read it Boxing day night and had finished 2 days later after not being able to put the book down and reading for hours & hours over those 2 days!
The story line is the same Jodi Piccoult shocker which forces us to contemplate the imagineable.
"Jodi Picoult's 14th novel, Nineteen Minutes, deals with the truth and consequences of a smalltown high-school shooting. Set in Sterling, New Hampshire, Picoult offers reads a glimpse of what would cause a 17-year-old to wake up one day, load his backpack with four guns, and kill nine students and one teacher in the span of nineteen minutes.
On Peter Houghton's first day of kindergarten, he watched helplessly as an older boy ripped his lunch box out of his hands and threw it out the window. From that day on, his life was a series of humiliations, from having his pants pulled down in the cafeteria, to being called a freak at every turn. Surrounding Peter's story is that of Josie Cormier, a former friend whose acceptance into the popular crowd hangs on a string that makes it impossible for her to reconcile her beliefs with her actions.
As Peter's mother says at the end of this spellbinding novel, "Everyone would remember Peter for nineteen minutes of his life, but what about the other nine million?"
This novel challenged me with every page. I think we can all relate to the "Peters" in our school life - the ones who are bullied physically and verbally every day by the popular kids. You feel sorry for them but do not want to get involved incase the bullies turn on you as in the role of Josie.
We are all aware of various school / college shootings in the world but this book really looks at the ripple effect of the shootings from the victims to the killer to the killers parents as well as the community. I dont think i have ever read a book where i have sympathised with every character in the story.
This novel is a powerful and moral challenging story. One that will have you thinking about it long after you have finished the book.
Most people must be familiar with Jodi Picoult, a hugely successful American novelist who, with worldwide sales of more than 12 million, is also Britain's best selling female novelist. She is no prize winner or academic, but instead finds fame and fortune by writing to a very successful formula; she chooses society's most controversial moral dilemmas and turns them into popular novels, not all necessarily with a happy ending. The secret of her success is not only the subject choice, but the research that she puts into writing her books, and the authentic background along with extremely well developed central characters keep her many fans begging for more.
'Nineteen Minutes' is her 14th novel, written in 2007. Although the central theme is a high school shooting incident similar to Columbine, themes of bullying and the pressures of being a teenager and conforming to the stereotype are also deeply explored.
Peter Houghton is the seventeen year old school nerd. A bespectacled geek who has been known to speak in Martian all through recess, the reader understands from the beginning of the book that he is just plain weird and completely unable to fit in with his peers. From his first excited day at school he is bullied unmercifully. Constantly teased, having his possessions destroyed, being jostled and mocked, Peter starts to feel that his life is just not worth living. His childhood friend is Josie who, although once just as marginalised as he is, blossoms into a beautiful teenager and finds that her looks allow her to be accepted into the top "Jocks" clique, of hunky football heroes and their slim, blond girlfriends. Although she still has sympathy for Peter, she is too scared to show this in case she loses her hard won popularity, and has now become one of Peter's tormentors - the final betrayal. The pain that Peter feels every day of his life goes unrecognised by his parents and his teachers. The general feeling is that he should toughen up and fight back, and Peter indeed does fight back - but not in the way that anybody could imagine. Getting ready for school one day, Peter sees something on his computer screen that finally sends him over the edge and, taking two pistols and two rifles, he goes into the school fully armed, killing 9 students and a teacher, and injuring many more. The whole incident takes only 19 minutes, but during that time the whole community is destroyed.
The book sets out to analyse in depth the causes and the effects of such a terrible incident, flashing back to scenes from Peter's past to explain the depth of the bullying that has come to dominate his life. Josie's life runs in close parallel to Peter's, and the pressures that have turned her into a borderline anorexic with suicidal thoughts are fully explored. As usual Picoult devotes time to the development of the minor characters in the novel so that the reader feels fully engaged with the whole story. Jordan McAfee is a character that has appeared in several of Picoult's books already. Taking on the controversial job of defending Peter in court, McAfee and his family desperately try to find a way to get a favourable outcome in the trial. Patrick Ducharme has also appeared in previous novels, and in 'Nineteen Minutes' plays the love interest, the hero who is first into the battle zone of the High School, and the detective who tries to make sense out of the whole mess.
I had two main concerns about this book; the first was the vague feeling that it was, perhaps unintentionally, setting out to pillory the working mother. Peter's mother Lacy is blamed by many townsfolk for raising such a monster and, quite naturally she examines every moment of Peter's childhood to see if she could have changed the course of events. Was it something she did? Could she have done something better? A caring full-time midwife, she has endless compassion and understanding for her patients - how could she fail to notice that her son is so depressed, solitary and lonely? How could she not do something about the endless bullying that he tells her about? Similar themes are explored in Lionel Shriver's book 'We Need to Talk About Kevin', but unlike Shriver, Picoult seems to lay the blame firmly at the feet of the mother who does not have enough time to notice. Another main character is the young and ambitious Judge Alex Cormier. Mother to Josie, she puts her career first every time, not noticing the changes in her daughter or hearing the silent and desperate calls for help. Josie feels manipulated by stereotypes; she has to be thin enough, popular enough and clever enough to stay in the cool group. The fear of sinking down to Peter's level and being bullied instead of admired rules her entire life. I felt that the unspoken comment from Picoult was always that if either of these women had been traditional all American stay at home moms, a tragedy could have been averted.
My second worry about the book was the almost voyeuristic interest I found in myself when reading the details of the massacre. These details had been very well researched by Picoult, who got a first hand account of the picture of a post-massacre Columbine from the local sheriff. Children hiding in air vents; literally running out of their shoes in fear; leaving abandoned sandwiches and drinks scattered in the cafeteria - all these details from Columbine appear in 'Nineteen Minutes'. Although the details of the injuries, the wounds, the positions of the bodies were deeply upsetting, I was ashamed to find an almost gratuitous satisfaction in reading these passages and feeling the horror and distress.
Like most of Picoult's books, this novel was a compulsive read that left me disturbed and thinking deeply about the issues - and from this point of view, I consider the book to be a success. It managed to evoke a lot of emotion and I really found myself caring about the characters. Despite this, I feel that it compares poorly to other similar novels, particularly 'We Need to Talk About Kevin', which was written with great skill and sensitivity. Jodie Picoult always aims for the controversial, for the shock factor, and although this has been very successful in the past, I felt that 'Nineteen Minutes' did not quite hit the mark.
Hodder Paperbacks, 2007. 608 pages.
Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors, but unfortunately she doesn't write quick enough compared to the amount I read, so I have found myself reading through her books again. I have just finished Nineteen minutes at 3am this morning (it's a really addictive book!).
In case you haven't read any of my book reviews before, please keep in mind that I try not to give too much away about the story, otherwise it would be pointless in reading the book. I do try and give some hints in my reviews, and make you think about certain things, which reading back, might sway you to buy the book just so you know what happens!!
Peter has always been bullied from a young age, but he tried not to take it too seriously as he had his best friend, Josie, to help try and take his mind off things. When he started high school, the bullying got a lot worse, and worse than thatm Josie started developing close friendships with the popular kids. Before long Josie was completely 'on the other side'. Even having a 'Jock' boyfriend, Matt. The popular crowd bullied Peter more than any other student in the school, and Josie was 'forced' to participate in it as well.
Peter still tried to keep his head up high with the bullies, until he realises that he has feelings for Josie. He decides to tell her this by email, but it all goes awfully wrong, and ends up with a very, very humiliated Peter in the school cafeteria.
This was the day that pushed Peter to his limits and he set out on a plan that would change many people's lives forever - he goes on a shooting spree in his High School, killing anyone that got in his way. But Peter was stopped by the police before he could kill the one person he really hated ... himself.
As in all of Jodi Picoult's books, the story then starts to unfold in a court hearing, and Peter's lawyer, Jordan, believes that he was suffering from PTSD caused by the bullying. This has never been used as a defence in court before so Jordan is taking a huge gamble. But, will it pay off? Who's fingerprint was on the second gun? And who really shot Matt?
Peter is the victim of the bullying, as hes not like the other kids in school. He has a very keen interest in computers and even designs and produces games which are released on the internet. However, one of these games is Peter's downfall, and the police soon notice that this was premeditated murder. Picoult makes us to feel sorry for Peter, which I never thought would happen due to the crimes he committed, but by the end of the book I felt such relief for him that I became a bit weepy!
Once Peter's best friend, Josie turns her back on Peter and becomes part of the group that have bullied him since his first day at school. Later on in the story, she admits that she did this because she didn't want to be treated the way Peter was by other students. Basically, shes selfish. Again, Picoult writes in a way that makes us feel sorry for Josie too, and everything that she went through. But theres a twist to Josie's version of events on the day of the shooting, something that perhaps makes Josie a suspect.
Alex is Josie's mum and the town's only female Superior Court Judge. Alex is forced to choose between being a mother, or being a Judge on the shooting case, but which one will she choose? For me, there would be no hesitation in being a mum and supporting my daughter, but Alex has never had a close bond with Josie, and feels the only way she can help is to try the case. Picoult makes us look at Alex in a different perspective from the other characters, even though she is also being made to choose between two things, but again, in the end all you feel for Alex is sympathy of the situation she is in.
Lacy is Peter's mum who's a qualified midwife. Throughout the book, she keeps on stating that it might be her fault that Peter turned out the way he did, was it something that went wrong in Childbirth? Or the way she raised him? Or was the situation completely unavoidable? Lacy is the most whingey character out of the book, but then when you remember that her son entered his own school and started killing students, you realise that she has every right to be as sad and depressed as she is. I think that Lacy does play an important part of the book, and Picoult was right to include her character in depth. After all, if we, as a parent, were in the same situation, would we not be blaming ourselves as well? Thinking that we had done something wrong when raising our child? I know I would.
Jordan is Peter's solicitor, and again plays an important character in the book. He accepts the job offer of being Peter's lawyer, and to try and get him released. But how can he do this when there are over 1,000 witnesses to what Peter did? It was Jordan that came up with the idea of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of chronic victimization and Peter's court case is the first time that this has ever been given as a defence, as it is not a syndrome that exists by name. Will Jordan succeed?
The book is written in the first-person narrative but changes throughout the chapters, so that we can get accounts of how the main characters are feeling before, and throughout, the incident. The book flips from talking in the present (i.e. the court case) to talking about the past (i.e. Peter's childhood). Even though this can be quite confusing in the beginning before you've had a chance to get to know the characters, it does all come together. Picoult was very clever to write in this style, and brave as well! I am one of these people that don't tend to read books that change perspective from one minute to the next, so I was pleasantly surprised that this book caused no problems whatsoever and it was very easy to grasp. All I can advise is to not give up on the book, give it a chance and you will learn to enjoy the narrative as much as I have.
You can buy Nineteen minutes from any good bookstore, or it is currently on offer at Amazon, normally £7.99 it is now down to £5. Bargain!
~~Also posted on Helium.com under the same username (I'm trying it out!)~~
Jodi Picoult is a favourite of mine. You can usually expect to find some kind of twist in her novels which show a whole new perspective on things. Possibly why I enjoy them so much. That's not to say that all of her books are interesting. On a few occasions I haven't been able to finish them, just as in this case where it took me a fair few attempts to reach the ending.
Nineteen Minutes follows the story of Peter Houghton. Bullied at school, he takes matters into his own hands when no one else will help. It's the last thing anyone would of expected of him when he shoots and kills 9 students and 1 teacher whilst injuring many others. At first everyone sees him as being another cold blooded killer until his lawyer actually starts to talk to him. Trying to understand the reasons why he did it.
This isn't the only theme running through. We see his relationship with Josie Cormier, a girl who he grew up and was close friends with develop before drifting away again. All because of the social standings of school life.
At first it's easy to like her. Sticking up for Peter when somebody teases him, even getting into fights and standing by him when he needs her support. Of course these kinds of friendships aren't always going to last, especially when she realizes that when she isn't with Peter people are actually nice to her. When she's away from him she is accepted into the group of popular kids. The same ones which targeted her old friend from the start. Something which he can't understand.
Gradually as her attitudes start to change so do your feelings towards her. At how cold and callous she has become to fit in, so much so that it's as if that nice little girl never existed. I felt no sympathy towards her, especially when the attack happened. Part of you wants to blame her for Peter going on the rampage. Despite how little involved she was.
There are several other characters you feel like blaming as well. His parents for being too gentle with him. Josie's Mum for not allowing the two friends see each other after school. The teachers who did nothing and obviously the bullies themselves.
I'm not saying that those who got shot deserved it, I just don't feel any remorse for them. It's a very thought provoking novel, more so than any other Jodi Picoult books. Is it right for someone whose life has been completely ruled by incessant bullying, to kill those who were doing it? An extreme way of fighting back to say the least.
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. It takes a deep look into the life of Peter Houghton and what he does to avoid being targeted. It also picks up the different ways the parents raise their children and the way old friendships can be ruined by the slightest of actions. Liking and sympathizing with a killer is rare for me but in this case that's what has happened.
It has 592 pages in total and is, after a few attempts, one which I struggled to put down. The chapters flicker from different periods in time. From the start of his school life to just a few days after the attack. You also get to read about a bit of Josie's life as well, to do with her Mum, a high court judge, and her boyfriend-one of Peters bullies.
It cost me £7.99 from WHSmiths but you can also get it on Amazon for £5.59.
This is a great book and is one I'd strongly recommend. If you're looking for something lighthearted then don't bother with this as it's about more serious topics. A definite for any Jodi Picoult fan and is probably one of her best.
The subject of this book didn't appeal to me at first and it sat in my cupboard for quite a while until I started reading it out of simple boredom. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot and the fact that I actually enjoyed the book, despite the fact I had guessed the ending by the middle of it.
~~ 19 Minutes - The Plot ~~
Think of all of the things you can do within 19 minutes and then think of Peter Houghton, the boy who killed 10 and injured dozens more.
Your life can take a tragic twist within a few minutes and noone knows this better than Peter Houghton. He was bullied from his first day of kindergarten until that tragic day when he finally snapped and took four guns into school and set off a bomb in the parking lot. Callous enough to sit down in the cafeteria and eat cereal surrounded by dead and injured, everyone knows Peter will be spending the rest of his life behind bars - or will he?
Josie Cormier used to be Peters' best and only friend until one day she decided she didn't want to be a loser for the rest of her school days. Doing a U turn, she started dating on of the popular guys in school, instantly making her a hit. The problem with this? She couldn't be Peters' friend if she was to be the popular girl she wanted. This left Peter a total loner until his friend Derek came along. Into video games, could he have seen it coming?
Alex is Josies' mother and a prominent judge in the community. She has always put her reputation before her daughter and only now does she realise how close she came to losing the daughter she loves so much and how she feels more comfortable at work than she does with her own daughter.
Lacy is Peters' mother and has to come to terms with the fact she has now lost both of her sons along with the fact the entire community hates her and thinks she's a monster. She starts looking back at her life for clues of where she went wrong and soon discovers it could be her fault after all.
~~ My Opinion ~~
I've read a number of Jodi Picoults' books and haven't always fallen in love with them like some people have. However, this book was fantastic and really thought provoking despite some fairly weak storylines within.
Peter has been a victim of bullying for as long as her can remember and everyone knows it but is unwilling or unable to do anything about it. He has lost his best friend to the popular kids that are his worst nightmare, his brother Joey, the all round guy who never fails at anything has died and he can't live upto his reputation. He spends his life assuming that he is failing his parents by not getting top grades or making the soccer team like Joey did. Do they tell him otherwise? No.
It makes the reader sad to see someone being pulled to pieces day in and day out without anyone intervening. Has everyone been bullied at some point in their lives? Yes. Do people normally get help for it and find someone who is there for them no matter what? Yes. But in Peters' case this didn't happen and talking about the bullying only made it worse. What else could a 17 year old boy do to get these people out of his life?
Josie Cormier is introduced very early on and you can immediately tell she's a very troubled little girl. Well, I say little girl because despite being 17, she acts more like she's 12 on occasions. She has left her best friend Peter behind because she was scared of the bullying and torture that would undoubtedly happen to her if she stayed friends with him and walked straight to the other end of the scale. Moving from the losers friend to one of the most popular girls in school wasn't an easy move and Josie had no idea how to handle it. She had lost the one person she could actually confide in and noone found her relationship with Matt Roysten odd because they were so in love. He also treated her like a ragdoll and threatended suicide if she left him. What would you do? She stayed with him for fear of losing him and her status.
These are undoubtedly the main characters in the book and the ones who spend their lives exploring their feelings and looking for ways out. Both have the usual problems of growing up and working your way through school but have somehow managed to escalate it to such a level they can only see one escape.
Peter walked into that school with the intention of killing those who had hurt him and making sure they wouldn't be around to do this to anyone else. You can see why he snapped and Picoult goes out of her way to ensure the reader can hate someone and sympathise with them at the same time - not an easy thing to do.
You flick back from when Peter and Josie were children and you slowly understand how they got themselves into the position they did without seeing an alternative route to follow. The narrative is clever in that Picoult always seems to leave you hanging whilst she explores another part of the story before continuing where she left off.
The characters of Alex and Lacy were slightly disappointing to me and I don't think Peters' mum was brought into the storyline enough to see where she had gone wrong. The idea of it was good but you were left wondering what she was doing with her life whilst everyone around her was falling apart. I don't know if this was because Picoult wanted to keep the story focused on Peter and Josie or something else but it certainly didn't work for me.
Josie is hiding a secret throughout the book that I won't spoil for you but you will probably work out for yourself half way through. Maybe I read too much and books are all too predictable but I don't think so. I think it was just a few too many hints all in a row and the constant reminder that a bullet was never found. You see the background into her relationship with Matt and his reactions when she does or says something he doesn't like so it's really no surprise to see her becoming depressed and trying to keep him happy. Just how long can a girl go on like this?
Alex was given a strange romance and the ending of the book was just completely weird for me. It was as if Picoult realised she had babbled on for 579 pages and suddenly had to end the book there and then in the worst way possible.
There were a few other characters such as the policeman in charge Patrick and the defence attorney Jordan but both of these storylines seemed incomplete. Picoult starts showing parts of Jordan's life that's being affected by taking the case and then suddenly there is no further mention of it throughout the end of the book and everything goes back to being hunky dory. These are the weak links i referred to at the beginning of my review.
~~ My Verdict ~~
Despite the above criticisms I actually enjoyed this book and will continue to read books by Picoult. She has chosen yet another thought provoking storyline in which a lot of people can relate to. Whether they are victims of a silimar crime, a person who has bullying close to their hearts or someone with a child that one day will have to go through the horrors and challenges of school.
It makes you think of all the things you can do in 19 minutes and the horror of what can be taken from you in such a short space of time. Peter had planned this attack with great detail like so many other crimes, but this one is somewhere you think your children are safe.
The greatest tale this story tells? Treat people like dirt on your shoe and they will retaliate and from their point of view, they will win.
I am big fan of Jodi Picoult and have read many of her books and they always leave me wanting more and always make me think. She tackles issues that and quite controversial and she handles them in a very delicate way that really makes you think.
Nineteen Minutes is about a boy who is bullied at school and the bullying is so bad that he takes drastic action at school by going on a rampage with a handful of guns and nineteen minutes is all it takes for him to destroy his, his family and many other lives.
This is quite a sensitive subject area as this sort of thing does and has happened, but she gets you to really think about it.
What is good about this book is that the author helps you to understand why this boy did what he did and the impact it has on his family and also the impact it has on the whole community.
What is also interesting is that the book moves between the present day and the past, showing all the incidents that led up to him committing his crime. I like the way it shows both sides of the story and demonstrates how nineteen minutes can change a whole town for good.
This is definitely one of the best books i have read for a long time and i would reccommend it to anyone who loves a good read.
Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens - until a student enters the local high school with an arsenal of guns and starts shooting, changing the lives of everyone inside and out. The daughter of the judge sitting on the case is the state's best witness - but she can't remember what happened in front of her own eyes. Or can she?