Monday, October 3, 2011

"What good is supposed to look like"

I have been debating for a while now what exactly I could post on here. While this is more of a recommendation/'rah rah rah' you-should-read-this-book-if-you-haven't already-type post, it is also an attempt to mention the many weighty themes Picoults presents in her book Nineteen Minutes which make it so intriguing (sp?).

For many obvious and even more subtle reasons, I love, love, love this book. Its one of those that I couldn't put down, despite its length (to me anything over 400 pages is a bit hefty, but that's just my humble opinion). The title to this post comes from a journal entry which serves as an ongoing division between each chapter. I love the use of this technique. It is one of the factors which gave me the feeling of wanting to read more- this whole idea of, well, whose journal is this? Why did Picoult use this literary device? The journal entries give insight into one of the main character's deepest thoughts- but the whole time I was reading the book, I was like 'ok, surely this person is going to say their name or give some dead-give away clue as to who they are'. Well, I got nada. It was interesting to see the development of this character through their journal entries which they intended to keep private, and conversely, were not able to speak these words to another human being in their life and thus resorted to and found comfort in writing down their thoughts.

I still am unsure as to if this book would 'qualify' as YA lit. It certainly is based on young adults, set in a high school with teenagers, but some serious, life-changing events occur that (in my mind atleast), force it out of the comfort of young adult lit into adult fiction. Some of the weighty themes I alluded to earlier include but are certainly in no way limited to the following: teenage angst, anger, violence, bullying, depression, memory, the legal system, being 'on trial', unrequited love, friendship lost, parent-child relationships and communication, bearing and rearing children, teenage/young pregnancy, absence of parents (physically and emotionally), disconnect between parents and children on emotional and psychological levels, etc. The mere fact that these and more themes are so wonderfully woven together throughout the story are the many reasons why I love and recommend this book.

The journal entry which the title to this post comes from reads in its entirety as follows:

"Nobody wants to admit to htis, but bad things will keep on happening. Maybe that's because it's all a chain, and a long time ago someone did the first bad thing, and that led someone else to do another bad thing, and so on. You know, like that game where you whisper a sentence into someone's ear, and that person whispers it to someone else, and it all comes out wrong in the end.
But then again, maybe bad things happen because it's the only way we can keep remembering what good is supposed to look like."

I love this particular journal entry. Thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, I heard _Nineteen Minutes_ as an audio book, and had a similar experience of feeling utterly consumed by it. Since I was listening in the car I couldn't just keep going, which was probably good for my mental health--it is deeply intense. I had the same inner debate about whether or not it would qualify as YA lit. I think it's one of those inevitable cross-overs--marketed to adults, but read by adolescents as well. It has a great deal to offer teen readers in terms of immediate experience and emotional resonance, not to mention those existential, philosophical questions like "What does good look like?" and "why do bad things happen?".