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Nineteen Minutes    by Jodi Picoult order for
Nineteen Minutes
by Jodi Picoult
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Jodi Picoult takes on a sad and frightening aspect of today's life in her fourteenth novel, Nineteen Minutes. Sixteen year-old Peter Houghton walks into his high school in Sterling, NH with an arsenal of guns and starts shooting. Nineteen minutes later, nine students and one teacher lie dead on the floor while many more are injured. Everyone is traumatized to one degree or another.

Picoult skips her story back and forth from the actual shooting to what happened before as well as to the aftermath. She does this skillfully without losing a single thread of the plot. Hers is a fictional happening but unfortunately one that has occurred in many schools. She is an accomplished novelist who is a master of her craft. She takes hold of a topical incident and puts faces on those involved, making us all sit up and take note.

In Nineteen Minutes, she explores the reasoning behind the massacre. Bullying is a major factor in schools. I remember my own son being bullied because he was different. One of the characters intimates that bullying occurs because it makes the one doing the bullying feel better about himself or herself.

The shooter's parents also pay the price wondering where they went wrong and how they could have done things differently. They become pariahs to their neighbors for not doing a better job at parenting. Anger and grief intermingle to become more than some of them can handle. And just when the reader thinks that the horror is over, another shocking twist is unveiled.

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