Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, 455 pages
celebrate the author
Good compelling story about a school shooting. So it's yucky in many ways. At the staff meeting yesterday, we were reminded to get the tape on the floor of our classrooms to mark off the safe area in case of a lock down. In some ways, this was a difficult read. What can I do? What's happened to that kid in his/her life before I've met them? Scary stuff to be thinking about.
The story itself? Well done, very suspenseful as Picoult writes in two simultaneous stories - the before and after the shooting. I liked this back and forth in time, seeing what happened to lead to this point. We see Peter, the shooter and his battles to fit in and deal with the bullying; Josie, his childhood friend, who breaks the barrier and becomes part of the popular crowd; Alex, Josie's mom, a judge and distant mother. We see the other students and Peter's parents - a midwife and an economics professor. Sometimes Picoult seems to be trying to cover too much stuff - bullying, gun control, social strata in schools, the economics of happiness, homosexuality, family dynamics, the trial, an abusive boyfriend. Maybe this is to put the shooting in some context, as it doesn't appear out of nowhere.
I wasn't a fan of Alex and Josie and thought they were much more dysfunctional than Peter and his family. So why did Peter and not Josie react the way he did? I thought the behaviour of the 'cool crowd' was over the top for a high school. The story was good, but predictable, and provides a balanced look into many aspects and issues that could be involved in a school shooting. I prefer the other two books I've read on this subject, but I would include it as a trilogy on this topic:
1. Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland B.R. ( before reviewing, but it was one of my favorite books in 2007)
2, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shiver
3. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (here's a review by caribousmom)
This book is my read for May to celebrate the author, as Jodi Picoult has a birthday May 19, 1966.