Over on adbooks, there has been some discussion of the new Jodi Picoult title as one that already has some controversy. Seems as though her hometown had decided to do a community read; ARCs were in the hands of readers. Then, they were all collected and the read was postponed. Why all the fuss? I decided it was worth the $$$ to buy a copy of the book and check it out. So, before we headed to the Big Apple (12" of snow covered with ice right now), I bought the book. The question is: will YAs read this book?
Nineteen minutes is the time it takes for Peter to open fire in his high school and kill 10 and wound more. What led Peter to bring weapons to school and kill his classmates? How will this shooting affect the lives of the community and the families? This is certainly territory covered in a few YA books, most notably SHOOTER, GIVE A BOY A GUN, PROJECT X. However, Picoult's novel is more adult in terms of audience as it focuses not as much on Peter and the other teen characters as it does on several of the adult characters. Peter's mother, the mother of Josie, one of Peter's former friends, the D.A., the defense lawyer, and the police investigator are more prominent characters. Does this mean that teens will not find and read this book? Probably not.
I am anxious to hand the book off to a teen. My gut tells me that they will start the reading (the opening is riveting) but perhaps lose interest as the story shifts away from Peter and Josie and swings to the parents and other adult characters. I certainly saw the twist in the plot coming at the end. I wonder if younger readers will, too? Lots of questions and not many answers. And not much either that will be helpful as we attempt to understand more about school violence and bullying.