Jodi Picoult – author of sensitive subjects

This month’s featured author is Jodi Picoult. She is an author who writes about sensitive social topics in ways that are relatable to her readers. When looking for a book to read about peer pressure, I chose to read her novel, Nineteen Minutes, which is about how peer pressure and bullying can play a role in the choices that teens make.

Featured author Jodi Picoult
Photo found on JodiPicoult.com

Her Background

Jodi Picoult is an American writer who has published twenty-six novels. Her style is one of a storyteller, and this novel is no exception. Nineteen Minutes was published in 2007 and was her first novel to hit the #1 New York Times Bestseller list.

According to Wikipedia, Picoult writes popular fiction which can be characterized as family saga. She frequently centers storylines on a moral dilemma or a procedural drama which pits family members against one another. 

Many of her books are banned by schools in some areas of our country. She writes about sensitive topics that may create controversy between people. But one thing she is really good at, it showing the reality of these situations, even if they are hard topic to write about.

Her books

She has written many books about social issues including Nineteen Minutes. This is the story of a school shooting in Sterling, New Hampshire. But, as I was reading this book, it is more about how we got to that moment than about the shooting itself.

How people are treated by others can impact the actions they take. As we learned in Nineteen Minutes, Peter Houghton, did what he did because of how he was being treated. Not to say that it is right way to react to constantly being bullied and feeling pressured by his peers, but when pushed to his limit, he saw the shooting as the only way to make it stop.

Interested in learning more about Jodi Picoult or purchase a copy of one of her books? Here is a link to her website. Jodi Picoult She also provides some great guides and questions about her books that would be great for teachers or book club discussions. Maybe even start a great conversation with your teen about the issues presented in her books.

Peer Pressure versus Bullying

There is a fine line between peer pressure and bullying. Peer pressure is feeling pressured by your peers to act a certain way or do something you may not normally do. Bullying is a repeated teasing and harassing of someone about who they are and not letting up about it even when asked to stop.

In Nineteen Minutes, Picoult shows both of these challenges through her characters. Josie Cormier is trying to fit into the popular crowd and does what it takes to be member, even if it means being mean to people and shunning classmates she used to call friends. Peter Houghton peers saw him as weird and different, so they picked on and bullied him.

Whether it is peer pressure or bullying that our teen is facing, we need to be aware of both sides of what is going on. With that information, sometimes a peer can take a simple action to stop the bully or the shooter from doing the wrong thing. It might be standing up for the target of the bullying and asking the bully why they are doing it. Or, it could be as simple as treating all of our classmates with respect, regardless if they are different or seem a little awkward in normal social situations. Giving them a chance to be themselves.

What can we do?

Like we talked about last week, giving into peer pressure has its consequences. There are many books out there that talk about these consequences and how it changes the paths that teens find themselves on when they are in the process of coming-of-age. Reading these books can help us relate to what teens may be facing.

When Peter talks about why he did the shooting, he says that they made him do it. When we look at school shootings, we tend to focus on the victims who were either shot or present during the event. But, just like with bullying, we don’t spend a lot of time looking at why the shooter did the school shooting or why the one who was bullying was making another teen a target. Bullying and shooting other teens is not an okay way to deal with issues that teens may be dealing with. But, do we give them an alternative way to deal with these issues? Do we offer assistance to the ones who need the help before these events take place?

Teens deal with anxiety over navigating issues they face with little life experience to guide them. Peer pressure adds another dynamic to these issues. They feel the pressure from their peers to make decisions that may not be the best for them. Or shunned by their peers because of a decision they make or the way that they are. Whether we agree or not, we need to support them and help them navigate whatever consequences come from it. Whether they are the perpetrator or the victim.

Also, we need to teach our teens and young adults to just be kind to others. Explain that we don’t know what challenges other people are facing, so just be open and understanding. Don’t be mean to your peers just because everyone else is.

So, make a plan this week to check in with your teen. Start creating that safe place for them to share what might be on their minds. Teen Mental Health Matters.

The Hard Way is about peer pressure

The Hard Way is the first book in The Way Series by Selma P. Verde. It is the story of Paul Jones and his navigating peer pressure to make choices. In the story, is peers challenge him to make a choice. The choice he makes helps him stay loyal to his friends, but it leads to big consequences. To find out what choice he makes, follow the link below and pick up your copy today!

The Hard Way - Book Image

The Way Series – Selma P. Verde

And, for more information about peer pressure, click on this link to our focus on the subject. Mentoring A Dream – Peer Pressure

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