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Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen MinutesNineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn’t my favorite Picoult novel but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Picoult has a great ability to embroider her narrative with only essential comparisons and details. She uses examples and phrases that pull at your emotions in a deeply evocative way.
The story is about a young teenage boy called Peter who sacrifices his own future by seeking revenge on his high school bullies; ultimately shooting them (and others) dead in a final tragic act of redemption.
But the most interesting aspect of this story, for me, was in the exploration of the quietly ‘displaced’ victims. Those who cared for him and became permanently scarred and affected by his actions. His childhood friend Josie, the girl he grew up with (and fell for) but she later ignored Peter to stay in favor with the more ‘acceptable’ high school crowd. Also Lacy, Peter’s mother; a woman who had already lost one child in a tragic incident and is now losing her second. And then there is Peter himself, a sensitive, bright and caring young teenager who was viewed in high school as a social ‘misfit,’ to become a detached cold-blooded murderer. It is the reaction of the whole town towards the young murderer, and Picoult’s effective way of showing us the viewpoint from every characters angle that really scrapes at your emotions.
The meaningful essence of this book stays with you long after reading. It reminds you that people are never just black and white and that sadly, even the perpetrators of some very hideous crimes are also ‘victims’ too.

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Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time

Leavingtime

Reality and the spirit world collide together in a compelling story.

This is the first novel I have read by author, Jodi Picoult, but I’m very glad that I did. Leaving Time brought tears to my eyes more than once, and if it is possible to have some kind of emotional attachment to a story, this one did it for me.

The story is told in more than one narrative viewpoint. A decade after a fatal incident at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee occurs, three characters set out to solve the mystery of missing person, Alice Metcalf.

We have Jenna, Alice’s thirteen year old daughter, Virgil, a down-and-out Detective, and Serenity, a fallen from grace TV Psychic. Quite an oddly eclectic bunch to string together, but somehow Picoult effortlessly weaves together the fabric of their lives, hopes and fears in an astonishingly authentic way.

Through reading her mother’s journals, Jenna attempts to find out how she disappeared and why she had abandoned her. At least two thirds of this book will teach you about the behaviour of elephants through Alice’s viewpoint.. I particularly loved the portrayal of how elephants interact as a herd, and how they grieve for their young. I found that I lost myself in most of this text. Whilst I realise that some reviewers disliked this part of the book, for me it was an eye-opening revelation and almost a dedication to their memory, inducing pity and highlighting the sad plight of their cruel mistreatment by humans.

From the Author’s Note, we can see that she undertook a huge amount of research in exploring these animals, hence I felt that the chapters did not detract from the story, but enhanced it in a way that skimming over the surface would have been the difference between a profound and deeply rooted story to one that merely lies flat on a bed of freshly mown grass.

As the trio finally come to the end of their search and the threads of the story are wrapped up, a major plot twist  is revealed which I did not see coming, and though you might have to suspend disbelief in order to fully appreciate it, Picoult’s writing is so competent; it works!

One of the best reads I have picked up in a while.

5/5 stars
Available on Amazon