2008: #12 – Nineteen Minutes (Jodi Picoult)

13709177 Book #12 was Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.  The back of the book reads:

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.

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

Nineteen Minutes is New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s most raw, honest, and important novel yet. Told with the straightforward style for which she has become known, it asks simple questions that have no easy answers: Can your own child become a mystery to you? What does it mean to be different in our society? Is it ever okay for a victim to strike back? And who — if anyone — has the right to judge someone else?

This was a completely different read for me than it would have been before April 16, 2007, since I live in a community that has experienced one of these tragedies. I was really struck by some of the similarities between what happens in the book and what happened at Virginia Tech, from the teacher that loses his life protecting his students to the memorial that is put up for the shooter by unknown persons and then removed (though the shooter in the book isn’t dead). Everyone knows that Picoult always has a twist at the end, so I wasn’t surprised by the twist in this one. This was a hard read (for me), but it was quite good.

Page count: 464 | Approximate word count: 128,000

2007: The 5th Horseman (James Patterson)
2006: The Lunatic Cafe (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2005: The Miserable Mill (Lemony Snicket)

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