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Empathy Denied

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Reviewed by Jessica Stites
Ms. Magazine

"In the opening sequence of Nineteen Minutes, a detective rushes into a high school in the midst of a Columbine-style shooting, directing terrified students toward the exits. The last scared, shaking 17-year-old he rescues turns out to be the killer — a killer indistinguishable from his victims. This is the moment when any chance for a simple good guy/bad guy crime narrative evaporates. Instead, the way opens for Jodi Picoult, a writer of psychological and ethical dramas, to probe how the explosions of violence we call 'asocial' and 'abnormal' can stem from the 'normal' socialization of boys...." Read the entire Ms. Magazine review.

2 Responses to "Empathy Denied"

    s h a r o n May 13th, 2007 at 7:47 am

    Vacuous review.

    Schools are breeding grounds for limiting the character of the youth-to-become-adult with about three choices: You either conform and/or rise to the top (get your A's--metaphorical or otherwise); try to become invisible; or make your own incompatibility, inability or alienation your badge.

    Schools sort kids on a number of metrics--none of which have to do with real-world competence or skill. They are "graded" A-F, pushed through twelve years of near insulation from the real world at a rate of "progress" determined by others for the convenience of others (administrators, government)During this lockstep incarceration, students are discouraged from learning and thinking critically about their place on the planet and how to find compassion for others who share the planet. And we the taxpayers pay billions for this system and pretty much get what we pay for.

    Tom Design May 16th, 2007 at 10:26 am

    Totally identified with this review and the need to look deeper at the character's thought process. We can follow the horrific storyline, and be captivated as it unfolds. And we can take a simplified rigid approach to our personal views of high school, as Sharon implies in her compartmentalized comment. But what Stites seems to say, there is a more to understand in the empathy, the feeling behind the little actions, thoughts and triggers that motivate a psychotic mind. Sure, there may be 3 types of success in Sharon's high school, but this is a fourth, ominous type. We need more depth of character to understand beyond cliche'd understanding of high school.

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