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Nineteen Minutes: A Novel Hardcover – March 5, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1st edition (March 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739480715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739480717
  • ASIN: 0743496728
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Best known for tackling controversial issues through richly told fictional accounts, Jodi Picoult's 14th novel, Nineteen Minutes, deals with the truth and consequences of a smalltown high-school shooting. Set in Sterling, New Hampshire, Picoult offers reads a glimpse of what would cause a 17-year-old to wake up one day, load his backpack with four guns, and kill nine students and one teacher in the span of nineteen minutes. As with any Picoult novel, the answers are never black and white, and it is her exceptional ability to blur the lines between right and wrong that make this author such a captivating storyteller.

On Peter Houghton's first day of kindergarten, he watched helplessly as an older boy ripped his lunch box out of his hands and threw it out the window. From that day on, his life was a series of humiliations, from having his pants pulled down in the cafeteria, to being called a freak at every turn. But can endless bullying justify murder? As Picoult attempts to answer this question, she shows us all sides of the equation, from the ruthless jock who loses his ability to speak after being shot in the head, to the mother who both blames and pities herself for producing what most would call a monster. Surrounding Peter's story is that of Josie Cormier, a former friend whose acceptance into the popular crowd hangs on a string that makes it impossible for her to reconcile her beliefs with her actions.

At times, Nineteen Minutes can seem tediously stereotypical-- jocks versus nerds, parent versus child, teacher versus student. Part of Picoult's gift is showing us the subtleties of these common dynamics, and the startling effects they often have on the moral landscape. As Peter's mother says at the end of this spellbinding novel, "Everyone would remember Peter for nineteen minutes of his life, but what about the other nine million?" --Gisele Toueg

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestseller Picoult (My Sister's Keeper) takes on another contemporary hot-button issue in her brilliantly told new thriller, about a high school shooting. Peter Houghton, an alienated teen who has been bullied for years by the popular crowd, brings weapons to his high school in Sterling, N.H., one day and opens fire, killing 10 people. Flashbacks reveal how bullying caused Peter to retreat into a world of violent computer games. Alex Cormier, the judge assigned to Peter's case, tries to maintain her objectivity as she struggles to understand her daughter, Josie, one of the surviving witnesses of the shooting. The author's insights into her characters' deep-seated emotions brings this ripped-from-the-headlines read chillingly alive. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

I grew up on Long Island with my parents and my little brother, the product of a ridiculously happy childhood. My mom says I've been writing as long as she remembers - my first masterpiece was "The Lobster That Was Misunderstood," at age 5. I honed my writing skills beyond that, one hopes, before I headed off to Princeton, where I wanted to work with living, breathing authors in their creative writing program. Mary Morris was my teacher/mentor, and I really do believe I wouldn't be where I am today if not for her guidance and expertise. I had two short stories published in SEVENTEEN magazine when I was in college. However, when I graduated, a desire to not eat ramen noodles exclusively and to be able to pay my rent led me to take a job on Wall Street (not a great idea, since I can't even balance my checkbook). When the stock market crashed in 1987, I moved to Massachusetts and over the course of two years, worked at a textbook publishing company, taught creative writing at a private school, became an ad copywriter, got a master's in education at Harvard, got married, taught at a public school, and had a baby. My first novel was published shortly after my son was born, and I've always said that the reason I kept writing is because it's so much easier than teaching English.

In fourteen years, I've published thirteen novels: Songs of the Humpback Whale, Harvesting the Heart, Picture Perfect, Mercy, The Pact, Keeping Faith, Plain Truth, Salem Falls, Perfect Match, Second Glance, My Sister's Keeper, Vanishing Acts, and the upcoming The Tenth Circle, this March. Two of my books (Plain Truth and The Pact) were made into Lifetime TV movies; Keeping Faith will be another. My Sister's Keeper is in development at New Line Cinema to be a feature film. And there isn't a single day that I don't stop and marvel at the fact that when I go to work, I get to do what I love the most.

My husband Tim and I live in Hanover, NH with our three kids, a dog, a rabbit, and the occasional donkey or cow.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

335 of 362 people found the following review helpful By K. Corn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This time around, Picoult finally lived up to my hopes and she did so by tackling a difficult subject, one that has been in many novels thus far...a school shooting, a look at both the victims' world and that of the shooter (who is also a victim, in his own way), the alienation of kids who are on the outside and the interconnection between the popular kids and those who aren't. Although the novel is graphic, it would certainly provoke plenty of discussion and understanding between parents and teens, although parents may want to consider how ready their teen is to read a book so detailed and so complex and with graphic sexuality (including rough sex).

As a long-time reader of her books, my one disappointment with Picoult has always been how often her endings seemed to fall apart into stereotypical or "pat" solutions, when the rest of her writing, up to that point, would be so very, very strong. And yet, I KEPT buying her books, because she did everything else so well - solid, compelling characters, great plots (until those endings), riveting events. I kept rooting for her. I knew she had the chops to produce a solid book, from start to finish, without those letdowns at the end (and I'm sure others will disagree with me about the endings, as she IS a popular writer).

This time,with Nineteen Minutes, she pulls it off, does everything right...and I'm delighted to be able to say so. I wasn't able to stop reading, except for short periods when I had to stop and think about WHAT I was reading. I have raised three teenagers and her portrayal of teenage life, the cruelties of the bullies, the fears and insecurities suffered by even the most popular kids, was eerily accurate.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Bristol VINE VOICE on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These are the words that seventeen-year-old Peter Houghton says when he is found after a school shooting spree huddling with a gun in his hand by Detective Patrick Ducharme. An outcast who had been bullied since kindergarten, Peter kills ten, including a teacher, and injures many more.

At first glance, it looks like a straightforward act of revenge, but things are revealed to be more complex. One of his victims is Matt Royston, the boyfriend of his former childhood friend, Josie Cormier, and others are members of the in-crowd, but others have seemingly no relation. In the days before the trial, and in the days leading up to the shooting, we are given the backstory, told mostly from Josie's, Peter's, and their mothers' viewpoint. We learn of the incessant teasing this boy received, adults' unsuccessful attempts to help him fit in, and of the stormy relationship between Josie and Matt. During the trial, we hear from the victims who survived and the devastation the crime has wrought on their lives. In the end, the reader may still be undecided whether Peter is primarily a victim, perpetrator, loyal friend, or all three, but that is the point.

What this book has that others like it often don't is compassion not just for the bullying victims, but for the "in-crowd" as well. It is more complex than "We Need to Talk About Kevin" because Peter is capable of love and not just a run-of-the-mill sociopath. The end is a little odd, but not as jolting as the one in "My Sister's Keeper." Highly recommended.
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72 of 85 people found the following review helpful By D. West VINE VOICE on June 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jodi Picoult is generally a good storyteller. She does not let us down in her latest novel, Nineteen Minutes. This is solid writing and gives the reader one glimpse into the minds and lives of some young folks who wind up on the cutting room floor. Jodi deftly shows how its not always the ones you think will wind up in trouble that often get overlooked and in the process run adrift of the world, winding up in terrible circumstances that even the most vigilant parent may not see coming.

I felt Josie's mother's character seemed a bit shallow for a judge and didn't symbolize the career woman that she was representing--changing her clothes three times before her first day on the bench and then throwing up twice before going to the courthouse. No one knows what she's wearing under her robes! She's supposed to be an accomplished attorney who has tried hundreds of cases! Also, not immediately recusing herself from this case was another stretch too far. And, what about Peter's brother? This was an area that could have been delved into deeper and may have helped with the overall understanding of Peter's actions. Since it was not developed, it may have been better let out??

The stereotypes of the various cliques were probably a bit pedantic but characteristic of what goes on in schools. I can still remember the ones who were picked on and made fun of when I went to school. But I actually believe, with all the litigation and the restraints on teachers, children today could actually be crueler than in years gone by. And, with all the blended families and dysfunction in general, it's fortunate that children are more resilient than we truly know or this could be an even greater problem than it already is.
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