I was having a bit of a low on books for a bit, you know that feeling which you can’t seem to find a book that catches you in the first 50 pages or so. It got me into a bit of a getting through a quarter of about 5 books, not finding one that I could stick with.
…Then I found this! I Love Jodi Picoult’s novels, so when I saw this book lying on my bookshelf unread (for some absurd reason) I was already intrigued. The blurb got me even more attracted to it and within half an hour I was completely engulfed in the book, knowing this is what I had been looking for!
‘Nineteen minutes’ is the story of a school shooting in America, done by the schools own student, Peter. He causes ten deaths and many more casualties. This you know from the blurb, and the very beginning of the book, but the story is about the causes and effects of the incident. The book goes back to even the shooters very first day of nursery, and goes up to him waking up, and making the decision as to that’s what he was going to do that day.
The book is in third person, which really gives you a feel of being the fly on the wall and watching the scene unfold. I thought it was clever how you were reading about the boy’s childhood, knowing what he was going to do ten years later, and picking out the signs of his mind switching to that purpose.
All the characters were incredibly realistic and all had stories and points of views towards the situation. Josie, the best witness to the incident, used to be best friends with Peter, and is probably the person it affects most. A huge aspect of the book is how she alone was affected emotionally and this is incredibly moving and thought provoking. Everyone was affected in different ways and seeing how Peter, the shooter, grew up and was affected could be a domino effect on to so many other people, even if they were not in school the day of the shooting, was interesting.
The book also went on to after the incident, and seeing how the case unfurled. A huge part of it was reading about the defensive lawyer, because it is a situation that not many people would sympathies with him. However it really made you think and Picoult managed to play devils advocate with the reader as the reader sometimes understand how Peter felt and why he did it, which is also sometimes completely shut down with a valuable reason to why he shouldn’t have. Obviously, Picoult knew that people will side with the effected, not Peter, the one who caused it all. However it was incredibly interesting to read more about how he felt and why he did it, and what caused him to feel like this was the only other option.
One thing I think most people will say about this book is it is completely unputdownable. Every page has you hooked and you never stop guessing. It goes from thinking you know everything to realising you don’t, and back and forth in how you feel about it. It doesn’t stop at the end when something else comes out about the situation, which means the whole way through there is always a mystery and while reading I found myself constantly asking myself questions in my head, even a long time after I finished reading.
Something I would say about this book is it’s not the kind of book which finished with a happy ending. Although thought provoking, it is quite depressing the whole way through but if you are prepared for this then definitely read it. It is a very important and relevant topic to this day and I think it is an important read for teenagers. The main characters are still in school, so for teenage readers it is interesting to see how things went wrong for Peter, someone a similar age to teenagers who would consider reading this. It is heart-breaking to read how people were effected, but also incredibly powerful and insightful, and extremely relevant to all teenagers today.
Overall, it is an incredibly gripping read which never stops you thinking. It is a hard topic to read about but personally I think it is also a must-read for teenagers over the age of 14/15. If you’re looking for a book to grip you from the first page, then this is a good one to choose. Although an upsetting novel, an incredibly important and interesting one as well. I highly recommend.