June 11, 2009

Book #43: Nineteen Minutes

"In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five.... In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge."

-from Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult

Nineteen Minutes is about a Columbine-like school shooting. Bullied outcast Peter Houghton opens fire in his New Hampshire high school killing ten people, but failing to kill himself before he's apprehended by the police.

The book is told from all different points of view: the shooter, the shooter's parents, a superior court judge, the defense attorney, and the police officer who stops Peter Houghton. The time spans from the time Peter is an infant, up to a year after his trial. The story is also told from the point of view of Josie Cormier, who's mother is the superior court judge. She was Peter's best friend in childhood, until she ditched him for the popular crowd. Josie's friends and her boyfriend were shot by Peter during the rampage.

It's an interesting story, and Piccoult does a good job making you feel empathy for the killer (who's been bullied his entire life) but also very clear that his solution was wrong. It's a very difficult read of course, and as a parent is especially scary. You always wonder about those student shooters, how their parents didn't notice them stock-piling weapons, how they could create a monster without knowing it. Of course it isn't that simple, and you can always do your very best job, and it can still not be enough. But I'd like to think as a parent, if my child were being bullied to that degree, that I would do whatever I had to do, to keep him from having to be miserable every day of his life. Whether that means going bankrupt to pay for private school, or quitting work to home school, so be it.

"What about home schooling? You know, it's not just for scary religious people anymore."
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Dead Man's Party"


Pam said...

I've had this book on my shelf for nearly a year and haven't read it yet. I just can't stand to think or hear about all the school shooting going on these days. Unheard of when I was in school! It terrifies me and even this past year there have been several events like that in my town. Maybe I'll get aroun dto finally picking it up.

Dang, I can't believe you're already on #43. I'm finally picking up some momentum this month but the best I've done in a year is about 53. I'm on 27or 28 right now. Maybe 29..I'll have to look at my list.

Anyway, the book that drowned was the new Melissa Gilbert autobiography and then another one got wet but not as bad...Jen Lancaster's newest, Pretty in Plaid. They're replacing it at no cost. I was afraid I'd have to make a big claim through the USPS. I'm having the new books shipped to my work.

Queen Kandis said...

I think the only reason I'm moving through the books so fast is because they're all mind candy. Very little nutritional value on my reading list so far.

Nineteen Minutes is a pretty heavy read, but I wish I'd read it back when I was in high school. It has some really important themes about bullying and striving too hard to fit in.

jon said...

Beat me at Trivial Pursuit? Hah! How are you at Jeopardy? Beat me at Math? Pi are round? I think so, Pi are not square.