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The book offers valuable & important perspective on bullying

To The Daily Sun,

I graduated from Gilford High School in 2008 and was a member of the English class that originally read "Nineteen Minutes" in 2007. At the time, Gilford High School had been selected as one of three schools to receive copies of the book prior to its public release. Students in the English class read and discussed the book, and were given an incredible opportunity to sit down with Jodi Picoult herself to discuss the issues raised in the book. We talked about bullying and social pressures in high schools, school shootings, and sexual aggression and violence among teens. I can honestly say that "Nineteen Minutes" was one of the most insightful, challenging, and valuable books I read as a student at Gilford High School.

The discussion that arose surrounding the content of the book was in-depth, honest, and utterly valuable to the students who participated. Bullying, school shootings, social pressures, and sexual aggression are issues that exist within and affect high schools across the country. To continue to sweep these issues under the rug, and not use "Nineteen Minutes" to open discussion about these issues all because a single passage describes a sexual encounter in a graphic manner is no excuse. Never mind the fact that this passage does not describe an "erotic love scene" or "pornographic romantic encounter" as some media have declared. The scene is graphic and uncomfortable to read because it describes an aggressive act of sex between two teens, one of which attempts to withdraw consent when the act begins to make her feel uncomfortable. Her request is ignored and the act continues. This scene, and this act in itself, is an issue that should be drawn to light — the presence of sexual violence and aggression among today's teens is a very real and ongoing concern, and only one of many addressed in "Nineteen Minutes."

Furthermore, before one attempts to remove a book from someone else's hands, people should educate themselves about what the book is truly about. A graphic scene that fills only a single page of a book that is more than 300 pages long is in no way representative of the book as a whole.

This book is a valuable and important perspective on bullying, school shootings, and social pressures that isn't supposed to make one feel comfortable — it is meant to invoke discussion about the significant issues within our high schools. If we judged every book based on a single page or passage within it, there would be hardly anything left in our libraries and schools to read. I urge you to take the time to read the book yourself, or at the very least, take the time to discuss it openly with your friends and children.

The issues that are highlighted in this fictional story are an unfortunate reality for many teens today. Let us talk about them, not run away because they make us uncomfortable.

Molly Harper