Tags: Blacksburg, bullies, Jodi Picoult, Josie Cromier, Nineteen Minutes, Peter Houghton, school shooting, school violence, Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech massacre
Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite current authors. This book did not disappoint me at all. It was very interesting to get a full view of a school shooting ~ from the perpetrator, from the students, from the parents, and from the community. You usually don’t know what makes someone do what they do. Knowing doesn’t change the way you feel about the act itself, but it humanizes the murderer. It’s easy to brush things off as simply evil, but life is much more complex. In the end, it was everyone brushing Peter’s life and humiliations off that set this book into motion.
This book centers around two characters: Peter Houghton and Josie Cromier. They grew up as best friends. This friendship superseded the end of the friendships their mothers shared (not the most convincing scene in the book). It did not, however, last through junior high. The pull of popularity was too much for Josie. Peter was “different” and he would never be accepted by the in crowd. As they entered high school, Josie witnessed her friends make fun of Peter. She felt guilty. She was so unsure of herself and her place in life that she participated. When the two were alone, they were able to slip back into a friendship. It’s when that friendship developed into something more that their lives were turned upside down.
After reading my last Picoult book, I was concerned that I had caught on to her literary patterns and could guess what was coming up ahead. There were several occasions while reading this book that I did the same thing. Each time, I was ~ thankfully ~ wrong. Perhaps Keeping Faith just wasn’t one of Picoult’s best.
I would highly recommend Nineteen Minutes. It gives you a feeling of what it’s like to live in a community devastated by school violence.
I finished reading this book only a month before the tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech on 4.16.07. Living only 45 minutes from Blacksburg, this was a haunting experience for everyone. Although this book was still fresh in my memory, I can’t say that it was something that I thought that much about at the time. This book does not in any way glorify school violence.
Fact is very much different than fiction. I wish our community and the families of all those affected by the massacre didn’t have to know that for a fact.