Book Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen MinutesNineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

However difficult the subject, Jodi Picoult always delivers big-time. She has an incredible capacity to show all sides of the story from the different viewpoints of characters trapped in ethical dilemmas. She never moralises, or allows even an ounce of author intrusion. Instead, she takes the reader right into the heads and hearts of those characters who are telling the story.

Nineteen Minutes is about a sensitive boy who has to suffer years of bullying, which begins the day he starts nursery school and continues through the years until, at the age of 17, he snaps and goes on a shooting spree in his high school. His mother is a midwife who brings babies into this world and now her son has become a murderer. She never realised that he had a problem, so you can imagine where that takes her on the self-blame front.

Basically, this a story about a situation that is every parent’s idea of a nightmare. Told from the third person viewpoints of the main players, while moving backwards and forwards between different time strands, the author skilfully builds up detailed psychological and social profiles of these characters, plus taking the reader through the gathering of evidence for the court case that follows the shooting.

This is a long novel (nearly 600 pages), but well worth the read, albeit a galling one. It made me think deeply about contemporary society and the “in-crowd” versus those it excludes. It also made me glad that I’m the age I am and not having to go through school now, especially with the added pressure of social networking.

I found it very hard to put this novel down, but it left me exhausted afterwards and unable to settle to reading any other work of fiction straight after.

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Author: Sarah Potter Writes

Sarah is a British eccentric who writes offbeat fiction, haiku and tanka poetry. When stuck for words, she sketches or paints instead. She's into nature conservation, sustainability, gardening, dogs, natural health, and reading. Her sociability is something that happens in short bursts with long breathing spaces in between.

10 thoughts on “Book Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult”

  1. A wonderful review of an author I admire. I’ve read most of Picoult’s books, but will admit, not this one. At the time that it came out, I was working with special ed students at a local high school, and the subject of the book was just too close. Ostrich head in the sand? Probably. But as you said, Picoult’s characters are soo well-written that they become real people, as do their problems, and they stay with the reader for a long time. The last Picoult book I read was Small Great Things, which I think is one of her BEST (but I say that about lots of her books when I finish them). This one stayed with me long after I read it, also, and I felt I had a better perspective of racism.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can imagine that anyone working in a high school would feel jittered by reading this book. On the other hand, it was a real education and some of its content potentially of great use to people working with children, in spotting the signs of bullying and helping prevent such a disaster from happening. I’ve not read Small Great Things, so it’s now on my reading list for when I’ve read the other three Jodi Picoult novels on my bookshelf! I came to her late, after one of my friends told me that she was her favourite author, so I have lots of catching up to do.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. *I’m so pissed… I wrote a really nice comment and then accidentally flushed it! Blaming my phone and not the user….

    Take 2:

    What a wonderful review, Sarah. I absolutely love anything Jodi Picoult and this one totally knocked the wind out of me. She is the queen of taking a story and showing both (or all) sides of it, and I have to agree, how she manages to stay out of it, is beyond me. She truly is brilliant and her stories do stay with you a long time.

    I have to agree with Pamela! Every time I finish a Picoult, I think, that is her best. I haven’t read “Small Great Things” so it’s going on MY to-read list and I would definitely add, for yours, Sarah, “Sing You Home”… I think that is my favourite, favourite. I could be wrong. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did read “Sing You Home” some time back, and loved it πŸ™‚ I also loved “My Sister’s Keeper”, but was disappointed with the movie as they made it too soppy and sentimental, and Jodi Picoult doesn’t do soppy and sentimental.

      PS I get pissed when I’ve written a long comment and lose it. That’s always happening on my tablet, so I won’t do WP on there anymore. I don’t have WP or any social networking sites on my mobile, as I like to have the cheapest package with just about enough to cover calls, texts and reading my emails. Anyway, it’s way too distracting when it keeps tempting me to reach for it to check what’s new!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh… I loved that one. I thought I had read My Sister’s Keeper but realised I saw the sappy movie. I agree. Jodie does NOT do sappy. Sorry.. you say soppy, I say sappy, same diff! πŸ˜€

        Well darn it, I regularly write comments on my cell, but this time, I thought I had pressed post and backed out… grrrr. I really should just get out of bed and go to my computer sometimes… πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read a book in three months. This coming from a guy who averaged one book per week for over ten years. I think my mind went on strike for better wages. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the review. When this strike of mine ends I’ll put this on my list.

    Have a great weekend, dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I go through spells like that. My problem with reading is that I always go to sleep after a few paragraphs if I pick up a book after my evening meal, so it’s really down to how much time I have to do sneak-reading during the day!


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