Book Review: “19 Minutes” by Jodi Picoult

Arielle Sobov

In just 19 minutes, many things can happen. According to Jodi Picoult, you can mow the lawn or watch a sitcom minus the commercials. Picoult’s novel, “19 Minutes,” shows that in this short amount of time, your life can also change dramatically.

This 2007 novel, just released in paperback, enters the mind of 17-year-old Peter Houghton, a high school student who has been bullied since his first bus ride on the way to his first day of kindergarten. After putting up with this harassment for years, he finally grows sick of it. He decides to commit an act of violence that haunts the small town of Sterling, New Hampshire for years: a school shooting.

When people hear about school shootings occurring in the news, everyone immediately feels sorry for the families of those killed or harmed. But it is doubtful that any of these people stop to think about the killer’s feelings or even those of the killer’s parents.

Picoult does just the opposite. She instead focuses on those ignored: the killer, and his parents. “19 Minutes” really shakes things up for the reader and brings about a totally different perspective on the events of school shootings.

This novel will keep you in suspense and make you wonder “why?” It will perhaps even make you feel worse for Houghton than any of the people he killed. Picoult will leave readers with the question of who was really to blame that day: the killer or the victims?

Our Grade: A+