Review: Nineteen Minutes

Nineteen Minutes
By Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group Pub.
Date: February 2008

Here’s a bit from the book:

“In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five…. In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.”

Were you ever picked on as a child? In the 2nd grade, there was a 6th grade boy that made my life a living hell. I’m not sure why he felt the need to do it, but I remember walking to school, not knowing if I was ever going to make it to school in one piece. The school day was no better. I’d be out on the playground only to be punched in the stomach or pushed to the ground. The aides didn’t seem to care what happened to me. Everyone has their limits though and when I hit mine, the end result was a 6th grade boy, bawling his head off with two broken teeth in his mouth. Yep, I decked him! Now, I am not a fan of violence but it sure felt good.

This story is like that but on a much bigger scale. Peter and Josie are childhood friends. Peter is teased mercilessly throughout his formative years. Josie eventually gives in to peer pressure and begins to hang out with the same kids that have it in for Peter. Since Josie is really the only close friend that Peter has, this hurts him deeply. After a particularly cruel prank leaves him completely raw and exposed, he takes exactly nineteen minutes to end the hurt for good.

My Thoughts:

This is my first experience with a Picoult novel. At first, I was a bit distracted with the flashbacks and flash forwards. They were necessary to tell the story, but I am just not a big fan of a lot of flashbacks. However, I do feel that in the end, they worked well.

I had a hard time liking the characters, but I’m not sure Picoult wanted me to like them per se. They were flawed, the parents included, but very realistically drawn. I didn’t have any issues with believability. I did feel sorry for Peter, even with what he did in the end. I identified with his pain but my frustration mounted as adult after adult chose to look the other way.

This is an incredibly sad story of a child who fell through the cracks. It’s a story that stays with you and although my kids have not hit the tweens quite yet, it has made me think about the upcoming teen years and what I can do as a parent to be there for my kids. Not just in the room, but present and involved in their lives without forcing myself upon them.

After reading this one, I am looking forward to reading some of Picoult’s other novels. My book group is meeting on Thursday to discuss this one but I may not be able to make it due to Open House at the school. I know there will be a lot to discuss so I am crossing my fingers that I can do both.

19 thoughts on “Review: Nineteen Minutes”

  1. I haven’t read any Jodi Picoult, but this is the one that has attracted me the most. Thanks for the review!

  2. This was a difficult book to read. So many adults failed Peter and I felt like Josie’s mother failed her. Great review.

  3. So funny, I was just about to ask you in a prior post if you had finished this yet and what you thought?! You read my mind girl. So far what I’ve read of Jodi Picoult, I really like her. And this one sounds really good too. Thanks for the review!~

  4. Ti: I can’t believe you were picked on so badly as a child. That’s awful. There was one boy when I was in the 7th grade that was mean to me, but nothing like that. I haven’t read any of Picoult’s books and I’ve heard they’re pretty sad stories. I still want to read this one, especially after your thoughtful review.

  5. Ti, that’s awful being picked on like that as a child. I can’t believe how children can be so mean. Being no fan of violence myself, I’m still glad you decked him finally. This was one of Picoult’s books that I did like but it certainly did leave an impression on me. At times it’s quite hard to read but then that’s her purpose in her novels usually.

  6. It’s been several years since I’ve read any of Jodi Picoult’s books, but maybe it’s time to check her out again.

  7. I found Nineteen Minutes to be a very powerful book and I just loved it. My Sister’s Keeper was also a great read.

  8. I haven’t read any Jodi Picoult, but I have MY SISTER’S KEEPER waiting on the bookshelf for me.This does sound like you enjoyed the book, even if it brought back less-than-pleasant memories.I like the quote at the beginning of your review; so true, lives can change in an instant.

  9. I haven’t read this book yet, and by no means have read all of Picoult’s book-she is a pretty prolific author. The ones of hers I have read I have enjoyed, and they have all dealt with tough topics. This one sounds like it does also. I must say that I am so sorry your were picked on so badly! How horrible and how satisfying that you decked that bully a good one! 😉*smiles*Kim

  10. Like you, Nineteen Minutes was the first Picoult book that I ever read. So far, I’ve liked this one the best.

  11. Oh, I wish you would have read one of her others first. I would suggest The Pact of My Sister’s Keeper. One thing about Picoult, she likes to write about the court room. The stories are great, with good character development, but if you don’t like court room banter some of the books can get long.

  12. This is a great review! I have not had the chance to read this Picoult book yet, but I know I will be able to relate. I had a couple of instances in my childhood being picked on (there was this one girl who arrived in 4th grade and decided she had it out for me for whatever reason). I am putting this review on my Marvelous Mondays post!

  13. This is the only Jodi Picoult book I’ve read, and I read it for a book club also. I don’t regret the time spent reading it, but I don’t think I’ll read any other books by her. Just not the type of book that attracts me.

  14. I was picked on in junior high, and it was awful. Thank goodness that’s all over now.

    This is my favorite Picoult book. I like how she gives you both sides of the story, and while you can’t condone Peter’s actions, you can see how he came to do what he did. Thanks for the great review!

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  15. This book truly opens your eyes to the reality of how cruel the world can be. Many people don’t realize how traumatic bullying can be. I have read many of Jodi Picoult’s books, and this one in particular was one of my favorites.

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