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I enjoyed reading Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. Every time I put it down and stopped reading, it left me seeking answers and I could not wait to pick it back up and start reading again. The whole theme of the book is bullying and the results of bullying in schools, Peter Houghton was the victim of bullying, but turned out to be the criminal in the Sterling High School shooting. From the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, and from the gunman on the University of New Haven‘s campus a few weeks ago to the very recent school shooting in Colorado a couple days ago, school shootings seem to be way too common nowadays.
It sickens me to think that anyone can have the urge and power to go into a school and decide to start shooting. Regardless of where a shooter is, it just disgusts me in general to know that people can be such monsters and even think about shooting people in the first place Furthermore, Peter was the eighteen-year-old monster in this situation on March 6, 2007, when he shot and killed ten high school students and injured nineteen others I did feel for Peter though.
Picoult began to describe the different situations Peter was in when he was being bullied and reading some of the things he went through brought me to tears. The verbal and physical abuse that Peter faced from other students in the locker room, cafeteria, and other places was absolutely terrible.
I felt for Peter throughout the whole book and although I do not condone what he did because it was disturbingly awful, I could see how the behaviors of other students drove him to the shooting. Some people blamed Peter’s parents for his actions. I feel as though his parents always loved him and did the best they could to try to be good parents, but Peter was constantly compared to his older brother Joey, who was basically perfect. On top of the bullying and hatred that Peter dealt with, that pressure to live up to his brother‘s name always took a toll on him too, which I think was just another burden on Peter that led him to the shooting.
I think that Peter could have talked to someone though. During the trial, the defense attorney kept saying that Peter did try to reach out to people, but no one ever really listened or helped him; it’s not like he wasn’t trying. I do not think that is true because if he really described the extent of his abuse, I feel like someone would have done something about it. If he had such strong reactions and thoughts about being treated badly, he could have told any teacher or counselor that he was turning to violence and he probably could have gotten help. Victims of bullying hold a special place in my heart because I know how bad it can get and what can happen. Although I was rarely bullied in school and cannot call myself a victim of bullying, I can say that I was directly affected by a bullying incident that happened to a member of my family. My cousin was strongly made fun of because it took him a bit longer to learn certain things than other students. He was very smart, just like Peter, but in certain subject areas he just needed some more help. in school, he was bullied day after day and would go home to my aunt and uncle so enragedr He developed anger problems, but managed to control them and made his way to college. The bullying did not stop in his freshman and sophomore years of community college. Eventually he could not take it anymore and unfortunately committed suicide at the age of twenty. The news was extremely devastating to my family and l, and no one will ever know how we felt and still feel. Reading this bookjust kept me thinking about my cousin and the horrible effects that can come about by someone being bullied. It is absolutely traumatic for anyone to deal with bullies and abuse, and unfortunately some of the victims turn to negative behaviorsr I think Josie Cormier struggled with her status in Sterling High. She wanted to be popular and be part of the group that everyone enviedr Dropping her friendship with Peter, she started dating Matt Royston and started hanging out with the popular kids and jocks.
I think it was really hard for Josie to choose between her old friend Peter, who she would get made fun of for hanging out with, and the popular group who would make her one of the most-liked students in the school. She did not want to be seen with and bullied for hanging out with a boy who was called gay, queer, and homo. She felt a sort of emptiness in her life and I think that being a part of the “popular” group in school made her feel like she belonged somewhere. Aside from the bullying topic, I felt that Jodi Picoult really captured my attention and kept my focus throughout the book with the way she worded and described things. For example, Josie and Alex’s mother-daughter relationship kind of bounced back and forth between a mom’s love and care, and Alex’s judge-like side of her. Itjust kept my interest and I liked reading about how Alex tried to be a mom at times but Josie would not accept it while at other times, Josie needed and wanted a mom to actually talk and listen to her, but either Alex had to run out to court, or she acted more like a judge than a mom, I think the way the author worded the situations that they came across just kept my attention because I can relate to some of them Another part of the book that seemed to stick out to me was when Picoult was describing that teenagers think they are invincible, but really they are just stupid. I agree with that because I know from personal experiences that neither my friends nor I thought anything could happen to us while we were doing something we should not have been doing. Although I am still only 18, I look back now at the things I did when I was a younger teen and I say to myself ‘what was I thinking?‘ because, honestly, my friends and I were just stupid. Additionally, I like the way Picoult relates certain things and makes me, as the reader, understand exactly what she is saying. On page 256, Lacy, Peter‘s mom, describes how it feels to be separated by a red line on the ground when she goes to visit Peter in jail, Lacy has felt disconnected from her son for years now, and the red line just made it more concrete and real how detached she really is from him. She said that she realized how real the barrier was only when she tried to cross it by apologizing for being lost and not doing everything she wished she had as a mother.
For some reason, the wording of that scenario just stuck out to me, I also took note on another situation, which was when Alex said, “You don’t need water to feel like you’re drowning,” when she was talking to Josie about being scared about the trial and how she would be there for Josie right by her side. I can relate to that because there have been times in my life that I felt like I was just sinking, about to hit rock bottom, but people in my life helped me get through my struggles and were with me the whole way, In regard to the structure of the book, having itjump from one time period to another was a bit confusing at times, but I enjoyed the way Picoult conveyed the story this way. Sometimes I forgot whether I was reading things that happened 6 years before or a month after the incident, which was the confusing part, however I liked this structure because we learned about the shooting in the very beginning, and the way Picoult constructed the book was to jump around from different times in order to give more details and support as to why certain things happened, The books I have read in the past were written to have a story in the beginning leading up the problem and climax in the middle of the book, then the results and outcomes towards the end In those types of books, I found myself being bored in the beginning until the climax of the book. In this case, I liked how we found out that the shooting happened in the beginning without any knowledge as to who did it and why he did it. Then in the middle there were the actual details about Peter‘s bullying experiences, Josie‘s relationships with Alex, Peter, and Matt, and different instances that were important to be aware of involving Josie and Matt, Then in the end is when we started to figure things out about the consequences that Peter would face and that Josie was actually involved in Matt’s death, because of the way he treated her when they were together.
I think Picoult did a good job with spreading out the events the way she did and although she jumped around a lot, it was still understandable and kept my attention. Overall, I did enjoy this book very much Although it was depressing, it kept me on the edge of my seat and wanting to read more. I have always liked reading suspenseful type books, and this one is one of my favorites, Once I started reading Nineteen Minutes, I got so into it and while I was reading some of the situations, it seemed like I was right there when they were happening I thought this book was very well written I loved how at first I hated Peter for what he had done, but as the book went on I really felt for him while I read about the terrible things that happened inside the walls of Sterling High. I think that the way the book ended with Peter suffocating himself with his sock and Josie going to jail was a good way to end it. I also think that Alex being pregnant symbolizes a new hope for her and a new beginning to start over as a mom.
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