Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A good read

I just finished reading Nineteen Minutes and it's a must read for those of you out there that like to read. Even if you don't, this would be a good time to start! I did think that it got a little long in some parts, but overall it's a great book.

The book begins with Peter, an outcast, shooting ten of his high school classmates. You are then taken back to Peter's first day of kindergarten, where he rises at 4:30 AM with excitement, clutching his Superman lunchbox and wearing his new clothes. Well, on his first bus ride, the lunchbox goes out the window, and the torment begins. Black and white becomes gray as you get glimpses into Peter's hellish years in school.

Throughout the book, the author points out the craving kids have to be popular. She calls it a full-time job, one that most are either trying to achieve or maintain. Your place in the crowd can make or break your high school experience. Being a little bit different can sentence you to miserable years in school. Why it is like this?

This hit close to home, as I was one of those that constantly wanted to join "the" crowd. I was constantly worried about the things I wore, if my hair was OK, etc. Sounds shallow, but I was in seventh grade, living in an upscale part of California, and knew what was required to sink or swim. The biggest prerequisite for popularity? Being a member of the cheerleading squad, which I was not.

I clearly remember being teased for wearing pants that I really thought were nice. "Those are boy pants" was what I heard all day, and I could not get home fast enough when school was out. I had acne and was called "zit queen". My son was teased the other day for wearing a shirt that someone thought was the color of poop. He came home crying and I joined in shortly because I remember those feelings of hurt that come from "friends".

What is most unsettling about this book is that for many kids this type of torment is a daily thing. They dread going to school, and they will finish their school years with mostly painful memories. I finished this book thinking what can we do, individually and as a society, to make this sort of bullying and tormenting stop? Any thoughts? I'd love to know . . .


Rach said...

School can be so rough! I remember that when I was in school, everything was about trying to fit in...its so difficult! I really wish there was an easy way to change the torment little kids can go through. As parents, its important that we try to keep communication open with our children so at least we can help them through this.

ccw said...

I read this book a few weeks ago. It was a good read.

I was in the "in crowd" and even then there was hurtful teasing. No group is immune but certain kids are definitely treated worse.

I feel the only way this behavior will ever end is if the insecurity of those years vanishes. While the generations may be becoming more tolerant, I doubt this problem will ever go away because the desire to belong is intense.

a happier girl said...

Kids are so cruel. I remember a kid in high school that everyone was so rough on and he had no friends. He was super nice and the smartest kid I've ever met when it comes to math but he had bad acne and just acted different. Today I wonder what kept him going. I also wonder if he had been in school these days if he'd have been the kid shooting up the school.