Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes


Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult | LibraryThing

(Written on Monday, 14 January 2013)

Title and Author(s): Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Release Date: March 9, 2007
Publisher: Atria
ISBN: 0743496728 
Pages: 455
Source: Library

Reasons for Reading: I read My Sister’s Keeper several years ago. Later, I posted a review when I reread it before doing a book talk at a senior center. When Nineteen Minutes came out in 2007, I didn’t want to read about a school shooting. Yet, watching the continuous coverage of the Sandy Hook shootings, I realized the importance of understanding such situations. So, I requested the book via HCPL.

Summary: Sterling, New Hampshire is a sleepy little town where denizens settle so they can send their kids to good schools. Nothing of note really happens in Sterling until March 6, 2007. In nineteen minutes, bullied Sterling High School junior Peter Houghton hauls five guns into the high school and goes on a shooting spree. When Detective Patrick DuCharme apprehends Peter in the locker room, he finds jock Matt Royston dead but Royston’s girlfriend, Josie Cormier, stirring. Daughter of Madam Justice Alex Cormier, Josie recalls nothing. Picoult relates a tale of bullying, broken relationships, and a reeling town.

One Thing I Learned from reading Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes: Battered person syndrome is a physical and psychological condition that is classified as ICD-9 code 995.81.

What I Liked:  I liked that Picoult began with the date of March 6, 2007. This gave me an idea of the setting and attitudes to expect. Also, she fed into my preference of having a date stamp.

Also, I appreciate that Picoult deals with relevant events and offers likely reasons for characters’ motives. On the whole, this novel has believable, sympathetic characters.

While I’ve yet to read Change of Heart, The Pact, or Salem Falls, I liked that Picoult brought back characters Patrick Ducharme, Jordan McAfee, and Selena McAfee. This gives me hope that I might see friendly faces if I pick up other books by her.

What I Disliked: I did appreciate the time stamp of March 6, 2007. However, Picoult would toggle between the big event and chapters with titles along the lines of “Seventeen Years Earlier.” Couldn’t she have added “1990” to this?

Then, there was the sense that this book’s plot was “straight from the headlines.” I’d avoided this book dealing with school shootings for a long time, not wanting to be reminded of Columbine High School Massacre around the time Nineteen Minutes hit the bookshelves.

Additionally, I remember reading My Sister’s Keeper and found reading Nineteen Minutes like watching any M. Night Shyamalan movie after I’d seen The Sixth Sense. Thus, I tended to smell a rat early in the narrative. I won’t spoil the end but I wanted to know more about how certain characters were doing. Maybe I’ll see them in another Picoult work.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks – YouTube

Setting :  Sterling New Hampshire

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Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter


The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards | LibraryThing

Edwards, K. (2005). The memory keeper’s daughter. New York: Viking. 9780786571031

Reasons for Reading : One of my friends asked me to read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. (Check out its entry on my TBR list.) Initially, I checked it out from HCPL. Then, I found I could check it out in eBook format from Houston Public Library.  I did this so I could read it on my Nook during my vacation.

Summary: Due to a blizzard in 1964 Kentucky, Dr. David Henry delivers his own twins. First, David delivers a healthy son, Paul. After delivering his daughter, Phoebe, David sees that she has Down Syndrome. Wanting to spare his wife, Norah, heartache, David asks his loyal nurse, Caroline Gill, to secretly institutionalize his daughter. Caroline, though, leaves Kentucky with the baby girl and raises her as her own daughter.  This split second decision changes the lives of David, Norah, Caroline, and their children.

What I Liked: The language of the narrative is lovely. Also, I felt David’s motives were well-explained by the author. He seemed earnest and loving. Norah’s relationship with her sister, Bree. I truly admired Caroline for her love and heroism. It was a relief to me that Caroline created a family of friends for her daughter, Phoebe. Lastly, I found the photography motif beautiful.

What I Disliked: Towards the end of the book, I wondered if Edwards just didn’t know what to do with it. She added in some characters in the eleventh hour to help resolve conflicts. Throughout the book, I wanted to throttle the good doctor and say “Tell your wife that your daughter lives!”

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Kentucky Rain-Lyrics-Elvis Presley – YouTube

Setting : Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Aruba, France

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Elin Hilderbrand’s Silver Girl


Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand | LibraryThing

Hilderbrand, E. (2011). Silver girl: A novel. New York: Little, Brown and Co. 9780316099660

While in England, my roommate gave me a book she just finished. It was Silver Girl. This was the first book I’ve ready by Elin Hilderbrand.

Hilderbrand relates a story of two estranged friends in addition to a tale of a Ponzi schemer. The author gives us two perspectives – that one of Meredith Martin Delinn, the wife of the “Bernie Madoff” character – Freddy Delinn, and her childhood friend Constance “Connie” O’Brien Flute. Forty-nine year old Meredith has lost it all thanks to Freddy cheating rich people out of loads of money. Nobody wants to associate with Meredith and she can’t talk to her grown sons because they’re also implicated in her husband’s crime. Connie’s got problems of her own in addition to the rift between her and Meredith. Then, Connie calls Meredith and the two head out to Nantucket for the summer. Here, Meredith and Connie make way for reconciliation as well as ghosts from the past. Meredith also has to face her old boyfriend, Toby O’Brien, Connie’s brother. 

I found Silver Girl easy to read and the characters realistic. I liked that Hilderbrand offered a point of view such as Meredith’s. Also, I liked that the title was a reference to a song by one of my all-time favorite music acts. I wanted to know more about Connie, though. Also, I was annoyed by how the author stated the characters’ full names. For example:

“The ring had been inherited from her grandmother, Annabeth Martin, and not bought with dirty money.”

“And the way that Meredith knew that Veronica O’Brien drank was because her own parents talked about it. . .

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: ‪Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water Original Version‬‏ – YouTube

Setting :  New York City, Nantucket

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Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic


Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman | LibraryThing

Hoffman, A. (1995). Practical magic. New York: Putnam. 9780399140556

I admit – I approach Alice Hoffman with trepidation. My freshman English teacher assigned us the task of reading At Risk, a story of a young gymnast who contracts AIDS from a blood transfusion. After finishing, I cried and cried. Twelve years later, I read Blue Diary as one of her characters bore the name Jorie (like me). Okay, so she doesn’t write the happiest literature. Yet, numerous colleagues and friends encouraged me to read Practical Magic. It pleases me that I managed to read this book without copious tear shed.

When their parents die in a fire, sisters Sally and Gillian Owens come to live with their eccentric aunts in a 200-year old house built by their ancestress, Maria Owens. Their aunts are witches and help many “upstanding women” by casting spells on the sly.

Sally and Gillian grow up without rules but virtual outcasts. Gillian elopes, heading west of the Mississippi while Sally falls in love with a local guy, Michael, marries, and has two daughters – Antonia and Kylie. Michael dies and Sally blames the family heritage – witchcraft. Sally and her young girls move to New York. Ultimately, Gillian nor Sally can outrun their roots and must admit who they are and what they can do.

While bittersweet at times, Practical Magic is my favorite Alice Hoffman work. Hoffman created clear, likable, and relatable characters in Sally and Gillian. Her vivid settings acted as characters as well.  My favorite part came towards the end and involves Aunt Frances and Aunt Jet and the girl next door.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Coconut by Harry Nilsson

Places : Massachusetts, New York, Arizona

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