This timely, provocative novelPicoult's 14thfocuses on a shooting incident that takes place at a high school in Sterling, New Hampshire. Peter Houghton is a lonely outsider taunted by the popular kids. One day, he brings a gun to school and shoots 10 people, an episode of violence that lasts exactly 19 minutes. After this horrifying incident, the small town of Sterling is changed forever. Deftly employing flashbacks to tell Peter's story, Picoult creates a convincing portrait of this alienated 17-year-old. Bullied at school, Peter immerses himself in violent computer games, creating one of his own called Hide-N-Shriek, in which the tormented hero murders his enemies using weapons found in a school building. Writing with remarkable empathy and insight, Picoult examines the repercussions of Peter's actions through the perspectives of various characters, including the conflicted judge, Alex Cormier, who handles Peter's case, and her daughter, Josie, who knew Peter and witnessed the killings. In the aftermath of the murder, as Sterling residents try to make sense of Peter's actions, some come to realize that forgiveness and mercy are required in order to move on, while others feel only hatred for the boy. This is a haunting chronicle of a grief-stricken community that is sure to resonate with readers. A reading group guide is available at simonsays.com.