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Posted by David Mehegan  February 23, 2007 02:57 PM

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Jodi Picoult

New Hamphire writer Jodi Picoult's new novel, "Nineteen Minutes," about a school shooting, rattled a few nerves in Hanover, N.H., and Newton, Mass., but for the record, no one is suggesting that the book should not have been written or that it ought to be suppressed.

According to today's Globe story, advance copies of the book were given to Hanover High School and Newton South High School, among others. The subject matter has made some officials nervous, but in the only action reported, Hanover school officials took the book off a required reading list. That's far short of censorship -- anybody who wants to read the book can still get it. But adults worry about the suggestibility of youth.

Picoult, the subject of a Globe profile I wrote last March, has made a career writing novels about controversial social situations: date rape, teen suicide, euthanasia, clerical sex abuse. Most of the profile appears here. Among the outtakes in our interview at her Hanover home, a year ago, were these comments on previous reactions to her writing:

"In America, if you don't talk about [an uncomfortable subject], it doesn't exist. I look at [her 1998 novel]'The Pact' It took an honest look at teen suicide. A lot of people did not want to read that book, did not want their kids to read the book. It has been a banned book. A lot of people think, 'If my kids read about it, they're going to start thinking about it.'

"The people who got the most out of 'The Pact' were the parents who chose to read it with their kids, because sometimes you can address a topic through fiction that you would rather not do with nonfiction, or even on a personal level. It opens up a conversation that they really need to have."

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