Posts Tagged ‘Jodi Picoult’

book review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

September 1, 2011

In the 7th grade, my family moved from  one school district to another.  The first day of school, I wore my  Girl Scout Uniform, as I knew I’d be going to  a meeting after school (at my old  school).  I guess that sort of set the tone. That, & my  frizzy hair. This was in the  mid 1960’s, when  Asian straight hair was ‘in’.  I was not cool.

I got teased a lot.    Called names. I clearly was not  welcomed into the ‘in crowd’ of sexually precocious girls into putting on make up, nylons, and mini skirts when they arrived at school.   A bit of irony  was that my mother was in a synagogue sisterhood with the mothers of some of these ‘cool’ girls, and she, of course, asked me about them.  I told her they were not nice.  The fact is, some of the boys were worse,.  Really hurtful.  However…  I did have a few friends, and a loyal dog, and plenty to keep me occupied.  My family was causing me more stress than school was.  Just  adolescence.  Actually, it wasn’t until I was in my 50’s that I learned I has Asperger’s Syndrome.  Made perfect sense.

When we went to high school, due to the affluence and population density of the area,  and the fact that about 6 or 7 primary schools fed into the high school,  we were a much large  mix of students.   By that time,  there were so many different cliques  because of interests, there was no dominant group.  The jocks/cool girls only mattered to themselves, really.

I am sure that in small towns, it is different, and that is what Jodi Picoult writes in this book. She really gets it.

For those who think that writing a story  is just sitting down to write, or plotting an outline, I’d encourage you to read this book.  I’d also encourage  people living in small towns, with  1 elementary school, 1 high school, and a tradition of  jocks and their hangers on being important, to ask that this book be  assigned  to the freshman English classes.  Friday Night Lights might make for good TV, but believe me, these people are often full of themselves, &  …not nice.

It is a sad story with  enough  embellishments to the plot and realistic dialogue to make it compelling.  An outcast,  partly because of his personality( he fits the Asperger’s profile in the book, but Picoult never mentions this), and partly because of an older brother being thought of as perfect (who is, in fact, part of the problem), takes a lot of abuse until his abusers really drive him over the edge.  This is not about excuses.  It is about  how  people  become part of a group—or not.

I am childless.  The big reason I am childless  is because I did not see any joy in raising children from my parents’ own example.  We were a burden.  I don’t know what they expected.  In fact, I don’t really know what anyone expects when they have children. People to support them in their old age?  Is that the traditional model?  Is it people to nurture, and have fun with?

Well, no matter.  The book was published in 2007, and  I believe it will be relevant for a very long time. If your school doesn’t want to recommend the book, buy it for your teenager and  read it with him or here. Really.

We all are inclusive or exclusive for many reasons, but being abusive to gain a sense of superiority is immature.  Sometimes, I think out American foreign policy is based on this premise, and it’s wrong.