NINETEEN MINUTES book review by cherlinda polynice

“By the time you read this, I hope to be dead. I guess I should tell you, don’t blame yourself; this isn’t your fault, but that would be a lie. We both know I didn’t get here by myself.” Written by Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes is a very thought-provoking and compelling story. It starts off by telling you all the things you could do in nineteen minutes. As the book opens it begins on March 6, 2007 in the small town of Sterling, New Hampshire telling the lives of numerous characters on a typical day, those of which include: Alex Cormier, a superior court judge and her teenage daughter, Lacy, Lewis and Peter Houghton, Patrick Ducharme, and many victims to be. As it goes on, the book switches to the local high school, Sterling High. As the students go about their business there’s a loud explosion and so begins the trauma of the Sterling High shooting. When Patrick Ducharme, a police officer arrives, he blazes through the halls in search of the shooter, the entire time thinking and feeling that he is too late. Finally he apprehends the shooter, to find that it is Peter Houghton. Continuing through the book, you learn the reasons that led Peter to making the decisions he did. To put it in a few words, Peter suffered from severe bullying and humiliation. Throughout the book, time flashes back and forth and it also switches amongst the sea of characters, thus creating a close connection between the reader and each character. Nineteen minutes was a beautifully written story.

            Peter Houghton is thought of as the offender who shot and killed ten people and injured nineteen at his school. When you first begin the book, you would think of Peter as a monster. Why would someone ever do something like this? But as you get down to it, you think about the real question, WHAT could lead someone to doing something like this?

            Josie Cormier is the Supreme Court justice’s daughter and also Peter’s ex-best friend. When the book flashes to Josie, you learn many things about her that are actually unexpected. Josie gets herself in the most unlikely situations. Between being distant from her mother and being too close to her boyfriend, Matt, Josie feels she is lost and doesn’t really know who she is. Towards the end of the book you really see that maybe Peter and Josie’s friendship isn’t as finished as it is thought to be.

            Alex Cormier, the Supreme Court justice is Josie’s mother. Throughout her life Alex has faced problems that ked her to becoming the woman she is now. Not growing up with a mother and having a father as a Supreme Court Justice, Alex felt a sort of calling to become one too.

There are a ton of characters in Nineteen Minutes, but some are a bit more important than others. When it comes to writing a story like this it is very important to include many details that at first thought you would think they are unimportant, but in the end when it all comes together you realize how much they actually help the story. The story takes place in many places, all staying in the town of Sterling. There are parts that take place at Sterling High, the jail, the courthouse and also at some of the various characters homes.

In nineteen minutes you can mow a lawn. In nineteen minutes you can take a shower and get dressed. In nineteen minutes you can pause the world and make them realize how bad life gets. Something that kept me coming back for more was the fact that Jodi wrote the book, so right after something big happened you’d want to keep going to find out what happens next. Nineteen Minutes is a real page turner. I give Nineteen Minutes two thumbs! I’d recommend this book to many teens, because I felt Jodi really got in and told you about how high school life really can be hectic and unexpected. I think this book teaches a good lesson. It shows what can happen when you spend your life being a bully and how that can come back and hurt you ten-fold. It also teaches that you can never really be too sure about things. I really believe Nineteen Minutes should be a class read because I feel many teens would learn a lot from this book.


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