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New book causes a stir at high schools

Posted by Ralph Ranalli February 24, 2007 08:46 AM

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Jodi Picoult at her home in New Hampshire
(Photo by Caleb Kenna for the Boston Globe)

NEWTON

Best-selling author Jodi Picoult intended to spark debate about the causes of school violence when she gave advance copies of her novel about a mass school shooting to three schools, including one in her hometown of Hanover, N.H., and Newton South High School.

She succeeded.

Officials at Hanover High School, which Picoult's son attends, yanked her book, "Nineteen Minutes," from a mandatory reading list last week, after some students wondered whether it was about their school. Picoult's fictional Sterling High School had an eerie resemblance to Hanover High, with its two-story glass atrium and green roof.

Last month, Newton South considered removing the book from its English classes out of fear the book would rattle students. Part of it was timing: As teachers handed out the books, they learned that a student at nearby Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School had been fatally stabbed by a fellow student in a school bathroom.

"Knowing I hit a nerve convinces me this was the right book to write," Picoult said in an interview. "I don't think this is a conversation you should sweep under the carpet."

"Nineteen Minutes" raises questions about whether a novel about a high school shooting rampage is a wise offering at a school. Picoult's book is slated to hit bookstores March 6. Picoult gave the advance copies to the schools with the caveat that there had to be adult-led discussion.

Read more about the stir being caused by Picoult's book in James Vaznis' story in today's Globe.

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