As many of you know, I am a voracious reader. I love all things literary, but mostly, I love fiction. Good, page-turning fiction. Truth be told, I'm more into the NY Times Bestsellers than the classics, but I do love me some Steinbeck when I'm in the mood...
I have recently read several books by Jodi Picoult. Who? Some of you are asking, but I think you'll recognize her more easily when the movie adaptation of her book My Sister's Keeper comes out soon. She writes books about terrible subjects. Like kidnapping, molestation, infantacide, school shootings, etc. But, the great thing about her books is that she writes chapters from each of the characters' points of view. So, although we all condemn a Columbine-esque type of school shooting, when you get to the chapter written from the teenaged shooter's point of view, you find out that he's not necessarily a demon - troubled, certainly, but not inherently evil.
I guess, before reading her book 19 Minutes, which is about that very subject, I kind of thought Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were always monsters. Probably killed small animals and tortured their uncaring parents on the weekends, you know the type. But, in all likelihood, they were normal kids for the first part of their lives. I think that's what scares us so about these crimes. It scares me - you expect monsters to look like monsters. Not like my kid, or the kid down the street.
I just read her book Plain Truth about an Amish teenager who secretly has a baby out of wedlock and it turns up dead in the family's barn before anyone knew about its existence. And about a murder trial, and how difficult that is for an Amish family to handle. About simplicity. About black and white. About love and loss. About judgment, ignorance and understanding.
I love to read a book that teaches me something. I love books that you finish with a little bit more understanding of something you either were ignorant of in the first place, or you had an incorrect opinion of. If only my physics teacher could have spun me a tale of murder and intrigue or love or terror to teach me about vectors, we would have all been better off!