I absolutely love books that force me to look at  situations in ways that I would normally never consider.  Nineteen Minutes is definitely one of those books.  The storyline is one we are all too familiar with.  And because of that, we may have already made up our minds about what to believe and who to blame.  I know I did.  But after reading this book, I look at a lot of things differently.

Book description taken from Amazon:

Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens–until the day its complacency is shattered by an act of violence. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened before her very own eyes–or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show–destroying the closest of friendships and families. Nineteen Minutes asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else, and whether anyone is ever really who they seem to be.

Parita’s Thoughts:

After spending 13 years in the American public school system, I can honestly say that bullying was never an issue for me.  While never popular, I always had a handful of close friends and many acquaintances.  My high school  experience was nothing like what they show in the movies.  I didn’t attend house parties, I didn’t drink, I never once snuck out of my house, etc.  But those things never really crossed my mind at the time.  I was having my own kind of fun and that was ok with me. 

Looking back, I can see that there were cliques – the popular kids, the jocks, the drama kids, the nerds, and those of us who didn’t fit into a box (the majority).  This was even more evident in the cafeteria during lunchtime.  Like attracted like.  What I don’t remember is kids being picked on, pushed into lockers, punched in the face (except for an occasional fight in the hallway), or forced to do things they didn’t want to.  After reading this book, I feel like I lived in a different world. 

Jodi Picoult does an amazing job painting a picture of a small town where being different meant being judged.  A town where if you didn’t blend in it would be made known.  Basically, if you tried to create your own space, the rest of your life would be hell.  I never thought I would feel sympathy for the main character, but by the end, I really wished things could’ve been different for him….and everyone else. 

Like I said before, the plot is something we are all too familiar with.  But how many of us have lived through the kind of pain that comes with not being accepted, not feeling loved, not feeling safe.  Bullying is a very serious issue that affects 1 in every 6 kids.  I honestly had no idea.  And while I will never condone revenge, I do think that schools need to have very strict anti-bullying policies, kids need to be able to trust teachers and approach them with any issues, and something needs to be done before it’s too late.

Nineteen Minutes is one of those books that stays with you long after you finish reading.  It’s heartbreaking, it’s emotional, it’s raw.  But most importantly, it forces the reader to look at a devastating situation from a different perspective.   And maybe even be part of the solution.  A must read in my opinion. 

Any must read book recommendations?  I’m taking names!

By Parita

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Nineteen Minutes”
  1. So I’ve been going back & forth with books to read and I think I am finally going to go with Nineteen Minutes. It sounds so gripping and I want to get into a book which I can’t put down. Fortunately bullying never really occurred in any of the schools I attended. Of course there were cliques but no one was outwardly hurtful to others, verbally or physically. That being said, I don’t think bullying has an age limit. It can occur in all areas in our life (even workplaces) so it’s important to take the necessary preventive steps and just be more aware that bullying is real.

    Have you heard of Palace of Illusions? I have heard great things about it and that has been on my “To Read” list for a while now!

    1. You’re so right, K. Bullying isn’t just isolated to schools – it happens everywhere. I’ve seen it happen in the workplace…many times. I wish people realized the aftereffects of their words and/or behaviors.

  2. Sounds like a good read! I’m currently reading “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” for a book club (this week- OMG) and can’t get into it. Disappointing, because the last book I read for this particularly group, “The Book Thief” was absolutely wonderful.

  3. I love Jodi Picoult books for this very reason. Seeing things in different perspectives, even making you question the legal/medical systems. They are so good. I read 19 minutes a long time ago. Although I can’t remember the details I remember loving it. I also loved the Tenth Circle and The Pact, both by Jodi Picoult. I’m actually reading one of her books now (Vanishing Acts), and I can’t really get into it, def not as good.

  4. I haven’t read that one, but I think I’ve read other’s by Jodi Picoult. I really love non fiction books (haha I’m such a nerd!) but I’ll have to keep this one in mind next time I want a fiction!

    1. I know what you mean. This book has definitely stuck with me. It’s hard to shake it off when you feel like you were there with the characters. Double edge sword I suppose…

  5. I have a bad habit of reading books like 10 years after they were popular so my recommendations are always very dated. This sounds good though. I enjoy Jodi Picoult, and envy her ability to pump out novels like a boss!

    1. Me too! Vishnu’s making me read the Hobbit right now since the movie comes out soon. He’s always so disappointed when I haven’t yet read the “classics.”

  6. I love Jodi Picoult’s books – got hooked after reading My Sister’s Keeper a few years back. I think I’ve read all of her books now lol. This one was particularly good (even though the high school scene is very American) and like always her books have a way of making me think long after I’ve read them.

    1. I never read My Sister’s Keeper – just watched the movie. And I think I cried for hours so I was scared to read the book. Although I hear it’s quite different from the movie.

  7. What a great book to consider reading. I usually hate reading, but this sounds so good. Bullying is no fun, it’s really sad how kids commit suicide these days over bullying. It’s definitely gotten a lot worse from when we were in school. Just heartbreaking.

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