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Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

nineteen“In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game.”  Or, in nineteen minutes, a shooter can enter a small high school, kill nine students and a teacher, wound many others, and cause lifelong grief and fear for almost everyone in town.

Maybe you, like me, have already heard a lot—actually, you may feel, too much—about school shootings.  However, I found this novel, which brings readers into the lives of the characters, completely absorbing from beginning to end.

Peter, a student in the high school, considers that the students who’ve bullied him since kindergarten are to blame for his attack.  The final trigger is a humiliating incident that embarrasses him before the entire student body and invades his online world, the place where he has felt safe.

Josie, a childhood friend of Peter’s, has cut her ties with him and entered the popular crowd. As the novel begins, hours before the shooting, she is contemplating suicide, even though she is dating a star athlete, and her life appears to be perfect.

Other major characters are Josie’s mother, who is to be the judge in Peter’s trial, Peter’s parents, a police detective, and Peter’s lawyer.

Although you may believe that you can guess the outcome of the story, you’ll find a major surprise at the very end!

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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