I've been a fan of Jodi Picoult's for several years now after first reading The Pact.
I found this latest book of hers to be particularly disturbing, primarily due to the timing of its release and my own timing in reading it. In the book, 17-year old Peter Houghton takes several guns to his high school and kills ten people, injuring many others. As the story unfolds, we learn that Peter was a favorite target of school bullies, dating back to his first day of kindergarten. His attorney takes a novel approach to his defense, describing him as having acted in self-defense due to post traumatic stress and suffering from school bullying syndrome. He likens Peter to the battered woman who kills her husband.
The school violence in this book supposedly happened on March 6, 2007. Obviously, Ms. Picoult could not have known that the Virginia Tech massacre was about to occur, but the commonalities between her fictional account and real-life events left me wondering whether Seung-Hui Cho had read her book and used it as a "how-to" guide. I realize that is unlikely, but it still rattled me. I'm left asking myself whether an actual victim of school bullying would find some sort of rationalization for retaliation imbedded in these pages.