08 August 2011

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Peter Houghton is a senior at Sterling High School in close-knit Sterling, New Hampshire.  Peter has been the victim of bullying by his peers since the first day of kindergarten when the older kids threw his lunchbox out of the school bus window.  Throughout elementary school, he had a best friend, Josie Cormier, to walk beside him through the hallways and to eat with in the cafeteria, but sometime during middle school everything changed.  Josie made an effort to be "cool," and succeeded.  Now in high school, Josie's dating one of the cutest boys in the popular crowd, and Peter is still being verbally and physically harassed almost daily.  It doesn't help Peter's situation that his older brother, who was at the forefront of the school bullying, was killed a year ago by a drunk driver, solidifying a perfect straight-A, top athlete, all-around-good-guy reputation.

But does any of that justify the facts?  Peter Houghton walked into Sterling High School armed with guns and within 19 minutes left a path of destruction that included 10 dead -- Josie's boyfriend being one of those -- and many more injured individuals.  The account of the trial, along with flashbacks of information from Peter's and Josie's childhoods, is told deftly in the hands of this popular author.  Recommended for high school and adult readers, though not necessarily for the faint of heart.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

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