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4.5 out of 5 stars
Nineteen Minutes
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
We've read about too many school shootings. These are intensely sad events as young lives are ended and harmed while sickening fear is permanently released to further separate communities. We all blame the parents for being so clueless.

I wasn't sure I wanted to read a long novel about such an event. But I'm glad I did. Nineteen Minutes takes the bare facts of such an awful day and helps us see the whole experience from every perspective. And the book does so with a kind and gentle heart.

This shifting of the balance of our perceptions is accomplished by several well-performed techniques including many narrators (different students, three parents, the police, the defense attorney, and his wife), connections among the characters, and multiple back stories that reach literally into the womb. The book's theme is far more universal than school shootings: How we grow away from our real selves and the damage that does to us and others.

I was very impressed by the way that Ms. Picoult viewed every character with mostly sympathy, even when you might think of them as being unsympathetic from the facts. Each character is also mildly funny. She doesn't let the tragedy pull us too far away from the realities of everyday life. It's an extraordinary storytelling gift.

If you are like me, you'll probably feel that your faith in people is increased by reading this story rather than the reverse. That reaction also surprised me.

No matter what your age is I think you'll find this book will draw you back into those turbulent teen years when being popular meant way too much. It'll be an intense and self-revealing visit.

Bravo, Ms. Picoult! This is a remarkable book.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
As one of the previous reviewers stated, I too was leary about reading about another school shooting, but decided to start the book and then decide whether or not to finish it. I couldn't put it down! Instead of a sappy book that tries to psychoanalyze the shooter and play on the reader's emotions, I was immersed in the story. Picoult does an amazing job of taking on an issue that is unfortunatley becoming too commonplace to the point that we are now desensitized to it and there is now only media coverage in the event of MASS casualty. She so gently shows that we are all to blame for these events. What particularly stood out for me was how many of the characters other than the shooter commit acts of violence on a daily basis whether in supposedly harmless teasing and playing pranks on "geeks", relationship violence, "mean girls", etc. that are socially acceptable. Yet it is the shooter that is singled out as being the villian. The real tradegy is that, without excusing his final act of retaliation, it is HE that really is the victim of society's norms of "being successful and making it in the world" (whether it be academic success, popularlity, fashion & beauty, etc.). Picoult exposes how we compromise our values and integrity to "fit in" and in so doing, deeply hurt others - not just ourselves. This book evoked alot of emotion and stayed with me for days after finishing it. You can't read this book without self-examination - how I relate to other people on a daily basis and my motives. Nineteen Minutes should be on the reading list of every high school Literature class.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2007
Jodi Picoult leaves readers with ambiguous questions by painting a portrait of social ostracism and climbing in schools as character personas are broken down. Every word captures and compels self discovery and reflection as Picoult is very truthful with her characters. Consequences resonate from every action as readers comprehend the repercussions that continue after every situation. Although Peter Houghton attacked the bullies, the victims of the shooting, one cannot disregard sympathy towards Peter and his motifs as the thin line between right and wrong blurs.

After reading Nineteen Minutes, shivers engulf your body regarding the similarities between the novel's school shooting, occurring in a period of nineteen minutes, and the strikingly similar Virginia Tech shooting. The novel alludes to various world changing events such as 9/11 and the Indian Ocean earthquake. It took nineteen minutes for Peter to kill 10 people. In 12 short seconds one of the World Trade Centres collapsed, contributing to the 2,595 dead. Lasting for ten minutes, the Indian Ocean earthquake effects were felt all over the globe, literally vibrating the world by a centimetre. Picoult's emphasis on what one can do in nineteen minutes provided a notable underlying component within the novel.

Picoult demonstrates there is no restriction on what one can achieve in nineteen minutes. Within nineteen minutes, the WTC collapsed, a 9.3 earthquake was created and Peter got revenge. The novel reveals that time does not restrict your actions as only you can control yourself and destiny.

"In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world; or you can just jump off it."

What would you do in nineteen minutes?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
We've read about too many school shootings. These are intensely sad events as young lives are ended and harmed while sickening fear is permanently released to further separate communities. We all blame the parents for being so clueless.

I wasn't sure I wanted to read a long novel about such an event. But I'm glad I did. Nineteen Minutes takes the bare facts of such an awful day and helps us see the whole experience from every perspective. And the book does so with a kind and gentle heart.

This shifting of the balance of our perceptions is accomplished by several well-performed techniques including many narrators (different students, three parents, the police, the defense attorney, and his wife), connections among the characters, and multiple back stories that reach literally into the womb. The book's theme is far more universal than school shootings: How we grow away from our real selves and the damage that does to us and others.

I was very impressed by the way that Ms. Picoult viewed every character with mostly sympathy, even when you might think of them as being unsympathetic from the facts. Each character is also mildly funny. She doesn't let the tragedy pull us too far away from the realities of everyday life. It's an extraordinary storytelling gift.

If you are like me, you'll probably feel that your faith in people is increased by reading this story rather than the reverse. That reaction also surprised me.

No matter what your age is I think you'll find this book will draw you back into those turbulent teen years when being popular meant way too much. It'll be an intense and self-revealing visit.

Bravo, Ms. Picoult! This is a remarkable book.

Highly recommended.
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Maybe 3.5 stars...

Jodi Picoult’s 14th novel begins with high-voltage excitement: seventeen-year-old Peter Houghton, an eternally bullied computer programmer, walks into his New Hampshire high school with a knapsack full of guns and kills ten students. With over a thousand witnesses and a video tape of the day's events against him, Houghton's lawyer Jordan McAfee has his work cut out for him. He bases his defence on the only plea that might save Peter: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by bullying.

"Nineteen Minutes" also features Judge Alex Cormier and her daughter Josie, who used to be best friends with Peter until the popular crowd forced the limits of her loyalty. Picoult mixes McAfee's attempt to build a case for Peter with the mending relationship of Alex and Josie but the more interesting thread is Peter's parents' response to the tragedy. Could they have done anything to prevent the tragedy? How can they keep loving their son after he commits murder?

Unfortunately, the novel slows by the middle and never regains its initial pace or appeal. Picoult fails to flesh Peter out beyond stereotype, focusing only on her twisting plot line. A premise with much potential falters in its exploration of what turns a recluse into a murderer.
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Peter Houghton a seventeen year old high school student has been enduring years of verbal and physical abuse when he is driven ever the edge. One more incident of bullying is the final straw leading Peter to commit an incomprehensible act of violence, a shooting rampage through the corridors of his high school. What could make a student turn against his fellow classmates?.......

This emotionally charged novel explores the consequences of bullying through the eyes: of the perpetrator, the judge assigned to the case and key witness. Jodi Picoult is especially gifted in making her characters seem believable and real, even in situations and circumstances that are uncommon and tragic. They are well defined and portrayed; you feel sympathy for someone pushed over the edge and pity for the clueless adults. The plot is riveting, poignant and provoking, it is presented with different points of view alternating back and forth between the past and the present. This novel's one flaw is the quick ending, which, as other reviewers have stated, does not seem realistic. Overall, an eye opener making you reflect and think, "How well do we know the people around us."I highly recommend this book.
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on October 29, 2008
As Jodi Picoult is one of my absolute favorite authors, my expectations are quite high. This book did absolutely not disappoint.
Full of wonderful words, hidden meanings and yet frank emotional clarity, this stunning tale of love and loss deeply moved me. In a topic that could have been played up on cliche Ms. Picoult used sympathy and realism to deeply show the characters, plot line, and the school shooting topic of which we are all too familier. Although clearly a very intelligent woman, Ms. Picoult writes without being pretentious, and all of her books are stunning.
I am unaware if authors read this site, but Ms. Picoult, I am a fan of your writing and all of your books. They all affect me on a level no other book has. I appreciate your art, and your books are incomparable of that I've read elsewhere.
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on December 12, 2010
I've always enjoyed Jodi Picoult books, especially My Sister's Keeper and Plain Truth. I found Nineteen Minutes to be incredible and heartbreaking. I could not stop reading it. And when I was done reading the story I could not stop thinking about the characters. The characters were very likable, and the description was adequate, not overdone.
The story seems mostly a rehash of the Columbine incident, many situation mirror things that happened there almost exactly. I don't want to spoil the ending but I will say it came to a quick end. It left out a lot of important information and didn't make sense. Overall, it was a very enjoyable read. Highly recommend.
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Peter Houghton had an extremely normal life. Raised in a normal town. Went to a normal high school. But he was always different. And because of that, he gets picked on.

And then he retaliates.

Many people are killed, and many more injured.

I don't want to give the whole story away, so just read this because it's so real. Everything that happens in NINETEEN MINUTES could easily happen in an actual high school (and, in many cases, already has).

I don't know what to say other then this is an amazing read. It is written in such a talented way that it could only be pulled off by Jodi Picoult.

Reviewed by: Taylor Rector
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on April 9, 2012
I read a lot of books in my spare time and I love to read but This book is really hard to get into for the first 200 pages.Over all I didn't enjoy it that much it's far to slow and boring in my opinion, for every good part in the book it seems like there are 10 boring parts.I also found the book jumps around alot too (first they're in high school,then buddys is shooting up the school and then there in kidnergarden,and then in high school,then after the shootings).I found this book a real chour to read and I think it's more for a women then a man to read, but friends insisted I should read it and it was dreadful.
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