While Nineteen Minutes places the responsibility squarely on the individual, it does emphasize the role of bullying in making this tragedy occur. In fact, it would be difficult to read this novel and not feel at least slightly sympathetic for Peter Houghton, the high school student who killed ten of the classmates and wounded another nineteen in the nineteen minutes of the title. In fact, in a somewhat unexpected twist at the end, the book could also be interpreted to suggest that under the right circumstances, each of us could be capable (is this the right word?) of this seemingly terrifying action.
If you are also a teacher, then this book is a must read, for the psychological aspect. I was left absolutely determined to take real action against bullying, as the novel points out how insubstantial many school’s bullying policies are – and woe betide the school that does not take this problem seriously.