Jodi Picoult is hands-down my favorite contemporary fiction writer of all time. I love the simple way that she writes, that is easy to read quickly while not being boring. She always includes plot twists, and in this book she includes flashbacks to build up to the present. The only negative I have - other than the fact that I don't get why her books are so thick and it feels like I finish them in a matter of days - is the predictability of the story line. Pretty much every book she writes has a crime take place, then goes through a trial. But what better place to address two sides of an issue than in a courtroom?
I also love how she picks such controversial topics to write about. I actually read in the back of this book that she gets inspired by news headlines, and likes to make her readers aware of the issues through her work, and likes provoking thought - which is why all of her books are "read this and then we can talk about it" types.
Nineteen minutes is about a school shooting that takes place in a quiet town in New Hampshire. While it certainly does not justify any type of school violence, it definitely makes you think about it from a different perspective - by depicting the shooter in a very human way. When you think about it, we try and justify things we don't understand and fear happening by saying that the shooter - Peter, in this case - was a monster. A result of negligent parenting and misconceptions of reality. However, she depicts his parents as being loving and normal as well as devastated about what their son has done.
What I loved in this book was also the depictions of bullying. The jocks were indeed the victims in the story, however she goes back continuously throughout the book showing their cruelty to Peter. She attempted to paint a picture of how he got to the shooting - combining his oversensitivity - which made him a target in the first place, his not noticing or caring how he appeared to others, and submission into the fantasy world of video gaming.
The last twist I liked was a girl named Josie, who was best friends with Peter when they were little, then became part of the "popular" crowd. Picoult successfully enter the mind of this adolescent with not just the contrived notion of popularity, but the loneliness that she felt. And the bond that Josie and Peter plays out in a way that I was both surprised and happy about.
So, please, go read one of her books. Any book. And we'll talk about it! :)