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Thought-provoking aftermath

April 10, 2007|by CHRISTINE BRUGH/Pulse Correspondent

Somehow, Jodi Picoult's newest novel doesn't seem so new. Although "Nineteen Minutes" might have a topic new to Picoult, I'm noticing some recurring themes throughout her books.

"Nineteen Minutes" explores the tragic topic of school shootings. Picoult looks at consequences not just for the victims; she opens up the possibility that maybe the shooter is just as much a victim as the people who are hurt.

In the novel, Peter Houghton is a sensitive boy who is constantly harassed his peers. He faces countless embarrassments every day until he takes matters into his own hands and shoots 29 students at his high school, killing 10.

The book then focuses on the motives behind this, on Peter's trial and on the lives of all those affected by his actions.

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I found "Nineteen Minutes" to be similar to other Picoult books I've read. There is a strong, independent female character who is dealing with the repercussions of a past bad relationship and eventually finds love again. Also, the book ends with a twist and an unexpected pregnancy.

It bothered me that the book rushes into the shooting. By page 24, all initial action is over. The following 431 pages deal with the trial and the story of Peter growing up.

Still, I really enjoyed the book. It is thought-provoking and enjoyable, and I found myself looking at things in new ways. But because of strong language and graphic situations, I would recommend "Nineteen Minutes" for mature readers.

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