"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Monday, May 28, 2012

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

In nineteen minutes a world can be turned upside down, inside out, and transform into a hell on earth. That's what happens inside Sterling High School. It's like Columbine happening all over again, only I get to listen in and get acquainted with the shooter, families, and victims.

I love Jodi Picoult's writing technique----the reader is allowed to climb inside every character's psyche, perspective, opinion, and view of the world. And I get to meet the shooter in an intimate way.

Reading "Nineteen Minutes," I thought-- "Who gives a damn about Peter Houghton, he's a killer, a monster." But Picoult being the author she is, brought me on a journey of the past and present of Peter's childhood, the taunting, the bullying, and the terror of his every day existence.

On his first day of Kindergarten, his mom has packed a lovely lunch in his little tin box: sandwiches, Twinkies, an apple. Somebody throws the whole box out of the bus window and I'm left with an image of a large red apple rolling down the cement highway. And this is only the beginning of Peter's tormented school experience.

Alright, this is not a justification for Peter to murder ten high school classmates, which is ridiculous, it is a scenario of how one can be pushed to the edge. I felt empathy and even a little understanding for this poor, redheaded, freckle faced misfit.

The narrative weaves back and forth, each character getting his or her chance to speak, scream, cry, or analyze the tragedy: Peter's mom, the families of the victims, the students, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and teachers.

In the end, I can decide if I truly want to forgive Peter or understand him or sympathize with him.

One thing for sure, Picoult will brought me on a roller coaster ride of emotion and heartbreak and indecision. Nothing, absolutely nothing-- is ever only black or white or this way or that way.

"I never found who I really wanted to kill." Peter confesses to his attorney.

"Who was that?" He asks

"Myself." Peter says.

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