Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

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.

Nineteen minutes is how long it took the Tennessee Titans to sell out of tickets to the place-offs. It’s the length of a sitcom, minus the commercials. It’s the driving distance form the Vermont border to the town of sterling, New Hampshire.

In nineteen minutes you can order pizza and get it delivered. You can read a story to a child or have your oil change. You can walk a mile. You can sew a hem.

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

In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.

I have read 2 and a half books by Jodi Picoult so far. My sister’s Keeper, The Tenth Circle and half of the Pact (I lost it somewhere 😦 ) and what has always amazed me and held me in raptures is Jodi Picoult’s writing. She has the amazing talent of giving words to your inner most feelings. Nineteen minutes was no exception.

I almost regretted starting this book as it was almost 600 pages long, but after a few pages I forgot what page I was on. Nineteen Minutes in a nutshell is a school shooting story. Peter, 17 years old, is bullied by the cool guys all his life. He is a silent, sensitive sort of guy who never speaks up for himself, couple of times that he did, landed him in trouble with the teachers. He finds solace in programming, online violent games and dark music.

One morning, he goes to school and opens a fire on unsuspecting students and teachers. He kills 9 and injures 19. The number of people with psychological scars are in hundreds. But Peter does not shoot himself. He is arrested and there’s a trial.

This book was emotionally exhausting. It covered everything- the victims, Peter’s family, the police who investigate the case, the lawyers, the friends, and just about every angle you could think of. Jodi Picoult does not give solutions, she does not take sides, she simply presents all the sides of the story and leaves the readers to decide.

Although I understand Peter’s anger, his desire to kill everyone who tormented him, I don’t think his actions are justified. No one would. The students who bullied him, the school that did not take any efforts to find a solution should have been made to understand the consequences. But I don’t think that happened in the book, neither would I think it happens in real life. Instead of coming up with a new firearms act, we need to see what made everything happen. Not only in the fictional Sterling High, but in incidents like Columbine and Paducah.

This book opens so many topics for discussion which I think would make a good book club read. I felt restless after reading this book and I’m not part of a book club, so I did the next best thing, I wrote a review. Read it if you like Jodi Picoult or want to read a book that is emotionally satisfying.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Did you know?
Stephen King wrote a novel called Rage, which is on high school shooting, in 1977 under the pen name Richard Bachman. This novel was found in the possession of 4 high school shooters. After the Kentucky School Shootings, Stephen King decided to stop the circulation of this novel. He says that his inspiration for Rage and one short story in Skeleton Crew, Cain Rose Up, was inspired from his own frustrations with high school.

Interesting huh? It makes me wonder how much impact books have on weak or vulnerable minds.

Winner of the 2009 New Hampshire Flume Award
NH Teen Reader’s Choice award
Finalist for the 2010 Abraham Lincoln Illinois HS Book Award

22 thoughts on “Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

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  1. I enjoyed My Sister’s Keeper; that’s one of the best Jodi’s books I’ve read so far (not that I’ve read many of her books though). I think I’ve this book in my pile, but I’m not sure so I’ve got to check. ;P

    I like Jodi’s writing style too… and the topics she writes for her books is always so interesting and thought-provoking. I look forward to reading this one.


  2. I’ve read several of Jodi Picoult’s books. I did enjoy Nineteen Minutes (as well as Tenth Circle, My Sister’s Keeper, and Plain Truth). But with her more recent books, I found them too formulaic. I highly recommend her older books. She does a great job of examining all sides of a story and showing what each person thinks which I love.


  3. The only Picoult book I’ve read so far is My Sister’s Keeper. I loved that, so am not sure why I haven’t read any of her others yet. I will make sure I read this one at some point, but I think I’m going to read Tenth Circle next as that is the one I have here.


  4. I have a few of Picoult’s books but I don’t think I have this one, though. I must get to My Sister’s Keeper soon.

    Thanks for the great review of this one.


  5. This is my favorite of the Picoult books I’ve read. I like how she tries to present a reason why someone would shoot their classmates, although it doesn’t justify it ever. It really makes you think about the way we treat other people and what makes a person snap.

    And the info about Stephen King is pretty interesting. I hadn’t heard that.


  6. This sounds like an interesting book. I haven’t read anything by Picoult, but this might be my first choice when I do.

    That is also an interesting fact about Stephen King.


  7. I am glad to hear you liked this one. I haven’t yet read it, but I have read several other of Picoult’s books and enjoyed them. I like how she can take an important social issue and present many sides to the story.


  8. God! I feel so illiterate to have not read any of Picoult books! I really need to correct that, so I go ahead and get this one!

    That little note on Stephen King was horrifying!


  9. This isn’t one of my favorite Picoult books, but I know just what you mean about getting caught up in the writing and forgetting what page you are on. I think “emotionally exhausting” is a great way to describe her books–she definitely gives you a lot to think about and twists and turns until you don’t know black from white anymore.


  10. This is one of my favorite Picoult books, along with Plain Truth and The Pact. The parts put in about Josie and Matt’s relationship was an interesting twist and really added to the story. I love her writing style. The tenth circle was very weird to me but I love most of her books


  11. i really liked Nineteen Minutes. its a great book to read with a friend or a group. if you haven’t read it, you must. its good.


  12. Nineteen Minutes was definitely my favorite book by Picoult. You really get engrossed in the story and even feel bad for Peter. Obviously what he did was wrong, but I really liked seeing his side of the story. It definitely makes you think.


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