I was having a really shitty day on Friday, because Paul was leaving that night to go on exchange for 4 months, so I knew that I wouldn’t want to do much other than read or watch DVDs most the weekend. As I was leaving the school library, I grabbed a Jodi Picoult that one of the boys had just returned, thinking that a light, schmultzy read would be a good thing for my sad soul. It’s called Nineteen Minutes.
Well, I have read only two other books of hers and I might have well been reading them again. She sticks to the same formula each time, but changes the scenarios. This time it was a high school shooting. Nine times out of ten, there’s a court case in her books, and sure enough, this time there’s a court case for the boy who did the shooting.
But, you know, as irritating as the formula is, I had to keep reading until I came to the end. I didn’t want to put it down and leave it. So I skimmed through it in a couple of hours, concentrating enough to know that the boy goes to prison for life (but somehow she manages to make that sound like not such a bad thing after all) and all the other little twists and turns tie up neatly.
Jodie Picoult is damn clever. She picks pertinent subjects, such as high school shootings, or teenage suicides, or autism and she weaves dramatic narratives around them. She manages to end each chapter with an irritating ironic comment from a character, usually dripping with meaning. Her writing irritates me so much, yet I admire her so much for making herself such a popular author.
I really hope, though, that no more movies are made of her books. I couldn’t stand Her Sister’s Keeper. I got stuck watching it on a plane and, in fact, in the end I turned it off. No more agonised little Abigail Whatsit acting so sincerely, no more Cameron Diaz trying to be a stressed out mother. No more dying young girl looking beautiful with a little flowered doek on her bald head. A friend of mine had leukemia twice as a child (aged 7, then 15) and she says there is nothing glamourous about the disease at all. You cannot look vaguely pretty, your mouth is usually covered in sores, your skin is a pallid grey and you are often throwing up.
All in all, though, the book took a couple of hours to read and all of nineteen minutes to forget.