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
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
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
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
"Myself." Peter says.