Monday, April 16, 2007

Nineteen Minutes in Virginia

Am having one of those eerie days -- started reading Jodi Picoult's new novel after midnight last night and then with this new day comes the horrible news from Virginia Tech. My heart breaks for all those families whose children were lost so instantly and senselessly. I keep thinking about the 1991 shootings on the U of Iowa campus when I was working there and how terrifying that day was for everyone --- today's tragedy encompasses so many more victims.... lost so instantly and so senselessly. Don't know if I can read any more tonight. Then again, maybe it will allow me to think about it differently. Maybe I am calling on the power of the written word to help me translate the meaning of such brutality......


POST SCRIPT 4/29/07: I did manage to finish up Nineteen Minutes. Like Picoult's other novels, it tries to see an issue from as many sides as possible, and then sneaks in a twist at the end to force the reader to reevaluate everything they thought all the way through the book. I do have to take the events at V-Tech into account when I think about my reaction to this book, as it does mirror much of what we read that week. (And in any other school shooting coverage for that matter.) Reading about bullying and adolescence and popularity and fitting in -- there would hardly be YA or middle grade fiction without those topics. We all knew it at that age and we know it now. The stunning number of "copycat" (or are they just others liberated by knowing someone did something about it?) threats in the ensuing weeks speaks to the breadth of the problem. Has life changed? Has the world changed? Are we - and our kids - so completely filled with pain? I don't know -- this book did not really help me process the V-Tech shootings. Neither did the news items. I came away from the photos of those lost in the fray (teenagers conjugating French verbs, for heaven's sake!)and from the gunman's menacing videos and from his family's anguished public statement in much the same way I came away from this novel.... I just felt completely and immeasurably sad.

3 comments:

Amanda said...

I know exactly what you mean...I posted my review of this book the day before yesterday and now it makes me look at that book with a whole new perspective. Scary.

Jen Robinson said...

That is creepy timing. I had fully intended to read that book - I've liked her recent stuff - but I certainly won't read it right away.

I was also reminded of the book "Trigger", which I read a few months back, and was very disturbed by. Definitely some common things between that and what happened at Virginia Tech.

My heart is broken, too...

Jen Robinson said...

I mean Endgame, that was the book I was thinking of. Creepy...