I know, I know… this book was published in 2007 and I’m only reading it now. I’m slow to the party on this one. I wish I had read it sooner. I’m a converted Jodi fan.
I had read another of Jodie’s books (The Pact) and I loved it and several friends recommended Nineteen Minutes as another great read.
The book was a change of pace for me. It’s not a thriller in the traditional sense, more of a drama, but has moments leaving you on the edge of your seat. I had trouble putting it down.
A school shooting is a horrible reality in the US and has been for a long time. The details of the school shooting were heartbreaking. Jodi does a fantastic job of describing the events leading up to and the post impact of the shooting. There are many players in the telling of the story. From the police investigator, to the lawyer (hello again Mr McAfee from The Pact), to the parent of the shooter and of the victim. Jodi accurately reflects the thoughts and feelings of the characters and yourself as the reader.
From the investigator:
He had no fucking idea how to process a nightmare this massive…
From the mother of the shooter:
no one seemed to have the right words of comfort for someone whose son had just killed ten people.
The overall feeling and questions you ask yourself when reading:
Did every teenager have the capacity to fall on one side or the other of that tightrope, and could you identify a single moment that tipped the balance?
As well as the courtroom drama that plays out, the book focuses on relationships. In particular the relationship between mother and daughter and the associated struggles. Also worth mentioning is the exploration of relationships between friends and the cruelness of young people.
I loved the book and a friend advised me it reminded them of the book We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I loved that book too, but they are different. There are many more perspectives in Nineteen Minutes and I don’t think it is as dark as We Need to Talk about Kevin, although the same feeling of heartbreak and senselessness is there – as it is with all the shootings that occur on a daily basis. I’m grateful I live in Australia, where thankfully, since the Port Arthur massacre, shootings are not commonplace in my country.
Read this and be prepared to be moved.
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.
Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever.
Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.