(Unless you want to buy your own copy of the book...then skip to the link at the very bottom)
I finished this book about two weeks ago, so my opinion of it in this blog post might not be as strong as it was when I had just finished the book.. that being said, I definitely have a strong opinion on it.
First of all, I loved the plot. Something I love about Jodi Picoult's books (at least, before I start reading them) is the dark side of the plot. This one (a school shooting mystery) was tragic but intriguing at the same time. I had an interesting take on it because the book was published in March 2007, just a month before the shooting at Virginia Tech and 5 (almost 6) years prior to the Sandy Hook shooting. It was inspired by the Columbine shooting in 1999, which Picoult discusses in her acknowledgments in the beginning of the book. It is interesting that she wrote this book not knowing that two of the "deadliest school shootings" in U.S. History were soon to follow. I wondered, had these shootings happened prior to Picoult writing this book, what effect would they have had on her story?
Like the rest of her books, Jodi Picoult forces the reader to reflect on personal and political issues in Nineteen Minutes that are not always black and white or easy to swallow. In my opinion, the main issue in this book is not gun control, but mental health. She focuses a lot more on talking about Peter's mental health than she does about the guns that he brought into the school. The book also discusses abortion and homosexuality. I like it when a book makes you think - especially about things that are relevant.
Speaking of relevance...I thought the way that Picoult depicted Peter as a victim of bullying was fantastic. Unfortunately, bullying is a huge problem in schools, on social media, and really, everywhere. By creating such a vulnerable character and throwing such cruel words at him, we were able to see the raw emotion of someone who has simply had enough. I felt so sorry for Peter while I read this book and overall just sickened that he was treated so poorly. It made me reflect on the importance of showing kindness and respect to others and how evil bullying really is. It was powerful.
I did have some major problems with this book.
The main problem I had with this book was my ability to predict the ending at, literally, the beginning. From the moment that Picoult wrote that Matt was the only victim that had been shot twice, I knew there was going to be a "plot twist" reason for that. After all of the abuse Matt put Josie through, and Josie crying at his funeral, saying "I'm sorry," unable to compose herself, I knew that she had shot Matt. I'm glad that my prediction was correct because if it happened any other way, the book wouldn't have made sense, but I was disappointed that I didn't get to experience a true "plot twist" because I love when an author is able to do that for me.
I had a problem with Josie getting pregnant by Matt for two reasons. One, it was redundant, because the same exact thing happened in The Pact, another one of Jodi Picoult's books. For that reason, I didn't think it was particularly creative. I just thought, "I've seen this before." Also, it honestly just wasn't necessary. The abuse was enough to create the image in my head of who Matt's character really was. The pregnancy was a very short part of the book it added no substance to it. The only reason I can kind of see for it was that the book began with Alex's pregnancy with Josie. But even still, like I said, it was redundant and unnecessary.
Something that confused me about the book was the part where Peter was questioning his sexuality and going to the gay bar. If that was what the book was about, then it would have made sense, but it was just another added thing that was unnecessary and added no substance to the plot or to his character. Picoult focused so much on mental health and gun control...and that was the point of the book. Had Peter turned out to be gay, then this part would have made sense. But he turned out to be straight and in love with Josie, so I don't understand what purpose this part served. It was just throwing me off, similar to Josie's pregnancy.
My final problem with this book...and I seem to have this problem with all of Jodi Picoult's books...was the slow beginning. It took so long for me to get into the book because I was so bored reading the beginning.
If you've read this book, what is your opinion on it? I'd love to hear it, and I'd love to hear your take on my opinion, too!