Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult will definitely be on the top ten books for this year. It is a new 2007 release and is 455 pages long. The focus of Nineteen Minutes is a school shooting. The events preceding the shooting and those leading up to the trial are slowly revealed as you head for the climax involving the trial itself. If you are a fan of Picoult, I'd place this book right up there with My Sister's Keeper. It is not an easy book to read in some ways. As I started reading and knew what was going to happen, my heart just ached. Most people who have simply attended a public school high school where no shooting has taken place will empathized with some of the characters. Nineteen Minutes is about a senseless act of violence, but it's also about bullies; it's about the "in" crowd and the "losers."
"Because if there isn't a them there can't be an us."
"Did you know that a single incident of bullying in childhood can be as traumatic to a person, over time, as a single incident of sexual abuse."
"You've got to be kidding me."
"Think about it. The common denominator is being humiliated..."
"What's the difference between spending your life trying to be invisible, or pretending to be the person you think everyone wants you to be? Either way, you're faking."
I was never really bullied in school, but neither was I a "top of the heap" popular kid. This book really makes you start thinking back to why some kids were bullied and some weren't. I'm thinking now that, even though I was a quiet kid and teen, people must have saw something in me, some fire that would fight back if I was pushed. (And it's true... I will push right back and want to start kicking, punching, and name calling.) I have a younger sister who was mercilessly bullied and I know she still carries huge, deep, gaping psychological wounds from her treatment at the hands of other kids. She's not a fighter by nature and these kids must have sensed that. Now I keep wondering where in the heck were the school official who were supposed to be watching the kids, but I know the answer. Many were too complacent to care. They didn't want to get involved. It was easier to not see what was going on. I saw this first hand myself.
Hard book... hard topic... but highly recommended.