Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult
It only takes nineteen minutes to change lives forever. Peter goes to school one morning and in nineteen minutes he shoots and tries to kill as many classmates as he can.
The beginning of this tragedy starts ten years earlier on Peter’s first day of school. On the bus that day, a boy takes Peter’s new lunch box and throws it out the bus window where it shatters into pieces. This boy will be a lifelong classmate of his, and he, as well as others like him bully Peter relentlessly. The shooting is not the main theme of the story, the bullying Peter has to endure everyday, year after year is the real focus. Reading this book, you feel sympathy for Peter’s pain even as he kills and injures fellow classmates indiscriminately.
In flashbacks, we learn about Peter’s childhood best friend, Josie. Their mothers had been best friends too, but were pulled apart by disagreements causing the children to lose touch also. Josie becomes friends with the “popular” kids in school and these new friends of Josie’s are the kids making fun of and bullying Peter. By going back and forth in time we see and understand what motivates Peter to go on his killing spree. We also learn more about the victims and their families. This story is heartrending and does not contain a happy ending but there is a surprise waiting for those willing to finish it.
Reviewed by a staff member of First Regional Library
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