Oh, snap.

March 7, 2008 at 9:20 am 1 comment

That’s what I kept saying as I was reading Nineteen Minutes.  I can’t say that I’m one of those people who always figures out the twist in a book or movie, but I’d say I often figure out the surprise before it happens. (Sometimes just moments before, but that’s beside the point.) Not so with this book. Total surprise after total surprise.

I’m not feeling particularly blog-tastic today, so I’m not entirely sure what to say about Nineteen Minutes.  I thought it was fantastic and had trouble putting it down–I practically made myself carsick last Saturday because I simply had to read the last thirty pages or so. It’s one of those rare books that made me think about the characters even when I wasn’t still reading, wondering what they would do, what would happen next. And I empathized deeply with almost all of them, particularly Peter.

School violence is hard for me to handle, because it hits a little close to the bone.  In sixth grade a boy I knew (okay, we were actually “going out” for several weeks–this was before certain realities came to light) was suspended for bringing bullets to school. In eighth grade, a man entered the middle school not far from my house making bomb threats.  He was ultimately brought down by a wrestling coach before anyone was hurt, but not until after he’d blown up the gas station next door. Later that year, Kip Kinkel killed two and injured 25 at Thurston High after killing both parents. Springfield isn’t actually anywhere near where I lived in Oregon, but try telling that to the parents of the German exchange students at our high school.

All that, and I grew up in a super rural environment and went to tiny schools. I can only imagine what kids in Boston or Dorchester or New York see on a daily basis.

Anyway, I guess what impressed me most about the book was the range of emotions all the characters experienced, particularly the teens.  So many books try to slip in a happy ending or a feel-good message that effectively erases the reality of emotion. Not this one, that’s for sure! Peter is probably severely depressed. He and Josie could very well both be suffering from PTSD. Matt is clearly abusive. Joey was a drug user. None of that gets swept under the rug, no matter how hard some of the adults might try.

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Fair and balanced “We have books like this in our library?!”

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Linda  |  March 7, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I was constantly surprised by twists on this novel, particularly at the end. What always strikes me about Pocoult’s novels is how she is able to weave adult and teen stories together on a seamless package. Teens relate to the teens on the novels but they also get a decent glimpse into the adult world. The reverse is true I think for adult readers.

    Reply

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