In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five….In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.
Lord! Where do I begin??? First of all, I was reading this book even when I had exams so y’all know it must have been real! This has been such an emotional rollercoaster and this book caused me to stop and think after every sentence! I’ve never read so many heartrending words at the same time. It is a riveting, haunting tale that makes you question how fair “justice” is, how much you can fight back and I honestly couldn’t say one thing was right or wrong. The thing about Jodi Picoult is that she writes unthinkable things from such a special perspective that she keeps you hooked, wanting more, wanting to know more, bleeding emotionally, weeping. I didn’t cry about this book though. I mostly felt hurt, incredibly annoyed at how unfair life can be, at how fake people can be. I did so much soul searching and I discovered we aren’t all very different from the kids in this book.
The book revolves around Peter Houghton’s nineteen minute school shooting. As a victim of bullying, one day he’s simply had enough and he walks into his high school, kills ten people and wounds nineteen. Jodi Picoult then takes us back and forth to see where Peter’s come from. We see how early he began to be bullied, even by his own “popular” elder brother, how his only friend Josie Cormier abandons him for the popular crowd, losing important pieces of herself until she cannot recognize herself anymore. I do not condone murder in any way and I realize that if Peter Houghton knew how of such little importance, things and people from high school would seem in a few years, he would have made a different choice, but I understand him. I was bullied so much in primary school and part of secondary school and it is truly one of the most humiliating things. You can’t say anything because try as they may most adults don’t get it. They try to “toughen” you, make you stronger, tell you to ignore the bullies and many people just think it’s a rite of passage. It shouldn’t be.
A major theme of this book is “how well do parents know their children?”. Parents in this book didn’t know their kids were having abortions, getting physically and verbally abused by their boyfriend. They didn’t know their kid was bullying another child. Popularity is another theme that cuts through this book. Everyone wants to be liked; it’s human. But how far is too far to go for popularity. Popularity is such a vicious concept in the sense that most “popular” kids in high school only exist because there are people beneath their strata. The “popular” kids technically do not exist unless there are others lower than them in the caste system. Another lesson is that of comparing children. Peter’s parents always compared him to his brother “why wasn’t he as smart? as athletic? as “popular”?”. Every child is unique!! Some children are more artistic, sensitive, loving. They like to write or draw and not play football or anything other people of the same gender like to do and I think this is harder for boys. They’re made to feel like they have to like certain things or look a certain way to be “man enough”. We need to change our perspectives; Let people be.
I won’t talk too much about the book, I don’t want to spoil it for you guys, but if you can, get your hands on this baby! It’s such a great read!
QUOTES (a lot!);
It struck Lacy that she didn’t really know what color a chameleon was before it started changing.
But then again, maybe bad things happen because it’s the only way we can keep remembering what good is supposed to look like
If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask . . . with nothing beneath it?
If you gave someone your heart and they died, did they take it with them? Did you spend the rest of forever with a hole inside you that couldn’t be filled?
When the only company you had was yourself, and when you didn’t want to socialize, there was only one way to leave the room
true character showed when you could find something to love in a child everyone else hated.
As it turns out, kids are more like us than we think: damaged, through and through.
So much of the language of love was like that: you devoured someone with your eyes, you drank in the sight of him, you swallowed him whole. Love was substance, broken down and beating through your bloodstream
Something still exists as long as there’s someone around to remember it
happiness was U-shaped. People were happiest when they were very young and very old.
Life was what happened when all the what-if’s didn’t, when what you dreamed or hoped or—in this case—feared might come to pass passed by instead.
What she hadn’t realized was that sometimes when your vision was that sharp and true, it could cut you. That only if you’d felt such fullness could you really understand the ache of being empty.
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?
Ask ten people, and half of them won’t even be able to remember something concrete from high school—they’ve blocked it out. The other half will recall an incredibly painful or embarrassing moment. They stick like glue.
Babies were always just the right weight, so that when you finally put them down, you felt like something was missing
Alex thought of all the parties she’d ever gone to where the first question she was asked was What do you do? as if that were enough to define you. Nobody ever asked you who you really were, because that changed.
“When you don’t fit in, you become superhuman. You can feel everyone else’s eyes on you, stuck like Velcro. You can hear a whisper about you from a mile away. You can disappear, even when it looks like you’re still standing right there. You can scream, and nobody hears a sound.
You become the mutant who fell into the vat of acid, the Joker who can’t remove his mask, the bionic man who’s missing all his limbs and none of his heart.
You are the thing that used to be normal, but that was so long ago, you can’t even remember what it was like.
Love is supposed to move mountains, to make the world go round, to be all you need, but it falls apart at the details. It can’t save a single person.
There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations.
Happiness is what you choose to remember.
I’m forcing myself to stop quoting now, but you can always read more quotes here. This book was a quotes feast! As my conclusion, here’s my favorite one:
Ask a random kid today if she wants to be popular and she’ll tell you no, even if the truth is that if she was in a desert dying of thirst and had the choice between a glass of water and instant popularity, she’d probably choose the latter. See, you can’t admit to wanting it, because that makes you less cool. To be truly popular, it has to look like it’s something you are, when in reality, it’s what you make yourself.
If you were wondering, all my faves are in bold :). Let’s all do our best to stop bullying. Parents, don’t be afraid to stick up for your children, remind them how special they are and how little people’s opinions matter. And love them, hard. And always listen, even to the words they never say.
Thank you, Jodi Picoult.
PS: Anyone who’d like to read the book, get at me, my email is in the ‘contact me’ section. I have it in PDF format 🙂