What I learned from a tough book

Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes caught me off guard. Not in its subject matter, which I knew would be emotionally difficult, but by the freshness of the read. The words, thoughts, and characters’ feelings struck me with their strength and honesty. Drawn in from the beginning, I forgot I’d read the book before. Every scene was fresh as it unfolded. Every scene spoke of teenage or adult angst. Every scene poured forth human vulnerability.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult


Picoult guided me through the horrific events of a high school shooting by way of the shared history of the shooter and his victims. Although fiction, similar events have occurred throughout our country. I safely explored them through the distancing lens of a novel. The characters could have been real. The emotions I felt certainly were.

In reading Nineteen Minutes, I learned something about the horrors we can inflict on each other and the mind’s capacity to forget in order to protect us. This book made me more patient and compassionate with others. I’d rather not add to someone else’s pain. A book that changes a person for the better is a good one.

What books have made you better? In what way?

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2 responses to “What I learned from a tough book

  1. I felt the same way about “Heart Warriors” by Amanda Rose Adams, although hers was a real-life story. Adams openly shares her heart in this book about her son, who was born with only half a heart. In the first seven years of his life he has had twelve major surgeries, any of which could have ended in his death. Between surgeries, every breath could have been his last. The reader sees a breathtaking picture of her terrible anxiety for her son alongside her overwhelming love for him. It reminded me of the heights and depths of God’s love for us and how He must ache when we choose behavior that keeps His blessings from flowing into our lives. It also challenged me to step into relationships with people rather than pulling away because it might get a little messy.