In the town of Sterling, county of Grafton, State of New Hampshire, not a lot happens. But in Jodi Picoult’s story, Nineteen Minutes, Peter Houghton, a seventeen-year-old boy at Sterling High School, is lead to make a choice that would leave a mark on the town forever. Peter was expected to follow in his brother Joey’s footsteps. This is never fair. Joey was a kid that everyone liked. He was athletic, a straight-A student, and people just liked him.
But Peter wasn’t like that, and nobody paid much attention to him or at least the kind he would have liked to receive. He never got a chance to show people who he really was. The only one who did pay attention was his best friend Josie Cormier, until she turned her back on him in 6th grade. Just after that, Peter’s mother signed him up for soccer. It seemed like his mother’s reasoning for this was to “help” him become more like Joey. He tried to give his all, but sat on the bench every game they had.
Beside him on the bench was Derek Markowitz who was a lot like Peter. They soon became friends, but it never changed the way people would look at Peter. Peter had another problem: bullying. He was bullied on a daily basis since his first day of kindergarten when an older kid hurled his brand new Superman lunch box out a bus window. The teasing continued through elementary school and high school. From the very beginning, he was not thought of as an equal.
The hurt built up inside of Peter until he began to plan to get revenge on everyone who ever hurt him, and that included himself. Throughout the whole story, I could feel Peter’s situation getting worse and worse with every incident of teasing. The planning of this revenge started when Peter created a computer game called Hide-and-Shriek, in which he was virtually able to show how he really felt. Later that year, on March 6th, 2007, Peter went into Sterling High and got his revenge. It only took him 19 minutes. months later, the trial was held at the Grafton County Superior Court. Peter’s lawyer, Jordan McAfee, had the difficult job of defending a kid who was hated because he wasn’t like others, but was only trying to save himself. To me, the trial was extremely tricky, and to make a decision of “guilty” or “not guilty” would have been hair-pulling. Jodi Picoult made me feel empathetic to both sides, right or wrong. Nineteen Minutes is an interesting story to follow, and it keeps you wondering what the outcome of the growing disaster will be.