Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult is an emotional page-turner following a small town after a shooting at their local high school. Picoult writes with a brilliant with a new take on this topic by following characters that are unexpectedly affected by the devastation. These people include the killer himself, Peter Houghton, and his grieving parents who never suspected a thing from their very own son.
It is amazing how Picoult is able to make the reader feel pity for the killer. Naturally a person looks at someone who murders as a horrible and evil person, but here we are forced to ponder a twisted statement: the murderer was somebody’s son too. By allowing us to see into his past, Picoult enables us to feel empathy for him. He was bullied his whole life and never had any real friends except Josie Cormier, who abandoned him in high school.
Josie was always a very smart and motivated student, daughter of Judge Cormier, her mother. Josie was friends with Peter as a child but in high school, leaves him for the popular crowd. She also gets a new popular boyfriend, who bullies Peter and fuels his anger. Josie witnesses an important part of the shooting but apparently cannot seem to remember. This piece of the story ultimately has a big impact at the end, in which Picoult finds a conclusion that will shock even the most unsurprisable readers.
Picoult shows the impact of the shooting on people who weren’t directly involved: Peter’s defense attorney, the other students, Peter’s loving mother and father, and Judge Cormier. The variety of different angles is at first hard to catch on to, but overall adds a massive amount of insight into the reality of the situation.
I recommend this novel because of this insight. It presents a concept that is simply riveting. It is a slightly longer read but if given the time is very doable. It’s shocking to me that this hasn’t become a movie because there is extensive and quality material which could make for a beautiful film. Non-readers would also be given the privilege of being able to experience the story. If you read and like this book, I also recommend My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.