four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
28-May-June-2007
By: 
Jodi Picoult
user_rating: 
0

A-Nineteen MinutesOn a cold March morning, 17-year-old Peter Houghton sets off for school with a small arsenal in his backpack. His lethal rampage takes only 19 minutes, but nine students and one teacher are killed, many are wounded, and the inhabitants of Sterling, New Hampshire, will never be the same. Moving back and forth through time, Jodi Picoult reveals the brutality and daily humiliation that Peter suffered at the hands of local bullies while following the drama of Peter’s trial. As the survivors and their families struggle to make sense of the tragedy, the parents wonder just how well they really know their children.
Atria. 464 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 0743496728

Entertainment Weekly 4.5 of 5 Stars
"No reader can possibly foresee the book’s stunning denouement. This is vintage Picoult, expertly crafted, thought-provoking, and compelling." Tina Jordan

People Weekly 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Nearly eight years after two students killed 13 people at Columbine High School, are readers ready for a fictional account? Those who are will find Nineteen Minutes a brilliantly told tale—one that dares to remind us that someone loved the killer too." Bob Meadows

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"Picoult’s adept character development and intelligent plot twists make for a story that runs deeper than mere voyeurism or titillation. [The novel] is both a page turner and a thoughtful exploration of popularity, power, and the social ruts that can define us in ways we may not wish to be defined." Jennie A. Camp

San Antonio Exp-News 4 of 5 Stars
"Picoult’s genius as a novelist is her ability to take a one-dimensional archetype— the jock, the golden girl, the loser—and flesh it out into the faceted, entirely sympathetic beings that people her landscape. … Even when she descends into the maudlin, it will catch the reader’s breath." Jennifer Roolf Laster

Providence Journal 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Conventional suspense readers may not find Picoult fresh or complex enough, but her compelling legal and courtroom drama, combined with honest insights into the world of teens, succeeds overall." Lisa Palmer

USA Today 3 of 5 Stars
"Nineteen Minutes may not plumb great psychological depths or scale literary heights. … And yet its very ordinariness gives it surprising power." Jocelyn McClurg

Critical Summary

"Nobody does ‘ripped from the headlines’ better than Picoult," claims the Christian Science Monitor, and in her 14th book she takes on the sensitive, disturbing topic of school shootings. This is a raw subject for many, and reviewers were quick to note that this intense novel is not for the squeamish. Fans of Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper, 3.5 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2004) will recognize the setting, some of the characters, and her trademark, jaw-dropping plot twists as she explores the events leading up to and following the tragedy. Reviewers applauded her ability to make readers sympathize as much with the shooter as with his targets, blending the lines of aggressor and victim with ease. Those who dare to venture into such dark territory will be richly rewarded.

Also Reviewed

We Need to Talk About Kevin | Lionel Shriver (2003): A boy conducts a shootout at school, and his family tries to understand what turned their child into a killer. ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2003)