Wormie's Reviews > Nineteen Minutes

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
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May 20, 07

Recommended for: someone desperate for anything to read
Read in May, 2007

Nineteen Minutes is Jodi Picoult’s most recent novel, and I predict it will become her best seller to date. It focuses on the events leading up to and following a high school shooting.

Peter Houghton, picked on by school mates from the first day of kindergarten, enters Sterling High, and in nineteen minutes kills ten and wounds another nineteen students.

In typical fashion, Picoult shapes her story by providing various perspectives. We are able to put the story together from Peter’s perspective as well as that of his parents, Judge Alex Cormier, Cormier’s daughter Josie – a student in the school on that day, Patrick – a detective on the case, Jordan – Peter’s attorney. We are able to see all the characters as “human” – sympathetic but faulted.

Picoult has always been a great story-teller, and in this novel, she is able to take a ripped from the headlines topic, and create a fictional story that makes the reader think. Justice is served in the novel, but there is a surprise ending and some twists and turns to keep the reader turning pages.

With that said, my first reaction upon finishing the novel was, “that’ll make a great movie”. I then realized how sad that reaction was.

Nineteen Minutes doesn’t contain the artistic writing that Picoult’s earlier novels did. A few years ago, when I discovered Jodi Picoult’s books, I considered myself a big fan. I loved her novels and anxiously awaited the publishing of the next. I thought her writing was truly gifted! She had a way of telling a story by not telling a story. She wove together threads of personality and insight to create beautiful rich tapestries that were character studies, and by introducing me to a new character I learned something of value.

In Nineteen Minutes, Picoult told a story – a good one. But the nuance and magic of her earlier writing is gone. While I enjoyed the novel, there was nothing there that will stay with me. I was like watching a good made for TV movie – well done, but so what?

So, perhaps my review of this book isn’t fair. I give it three stars, because it is a well-written story. It will be a huge commercial success, and it will be on the best-seller lists. While it may further establish Picoult as a best selling contemporary novelist, it also may mark the end of my Picoult fan-club membership.

Ms. Picoult, we all have to pay the mortgage, and I understand. You give the people what they want, and you get financial rewards. I hope that in between these best selling works, you will still exercise that wonderful craft that you have been blessed with. I hope that your new found audience (who WILL buy anything with you name on it) will read some of your earlier novels and see the beauty and intricacies of your writing. I hope that someday soon you will be able to have commercial success by returning to your real gift – the “art” of writing.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Kathy Wawrzyniak Thanks for this review. This was my first Picoult novel and I picked it up after reading Wally Lamb's Hour I First Believed. Maybe because it was the followup, maybe because I was on overkill with highschool shooting books, I didn't LOVE the book. I've heard a lot about Picoult and have been wanting to read something of her's, and when I saw this book mentioned in a review of Lamb's book I figured it'd kill two birds with one stone. I'm glad to hear that there is more to her earlier novels. I was going to write her off, but you've made me want to pick up one of the earlier novels. Is there one I should start with?


message 2: by Christine (new)

Christine Schraer Def my Sister's Keeper is her very best!!


message 3: by Tina (new)

Tina I agree with Kathy. I actually put the book down as I was unable to really get into it. I want to look forward to picking up my latest book, and it simply was not happening with this one. I, too, will try an earlier book by this author.


Beth I almost put the book down but was 100 pages in, it was just too "overdone" and superfluous.


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