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Start by marking “Ten Good Seconds of Silence” as Want to Read:​ Elizabeth Ruth is a writer, creative writing instructor and mother living in Toronto, Canada.​ Her first novel, Ten Good Seconds of Silence was a finalist for the Writers' Trust of Canada Fiction Prize, the
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With a choke and a sputter, Derek startled awake. Derek spat into a napkin and rubbed his mouth hard. He glanced around to see who else had been watching. Matt leaned over and kissed her neck.

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He drew Josie to her feet and then turned to his friends. Zoe Patterson was wondering what it was like to kiss a guy who had braces. Not that it was a remote possibility for her anytime in the near future, but she figured that it was something she ought to consider before the moment actually caught her off guard. And honestly, was there any place better than a stupid math class to let your mind wander? McCabe, who thought he was the Chris Rock of algebra, was doing his daily stand-up routine.

As he turned to the board, Zoe looked up at the clock. She counted along with the second hand until it was on the dot and then popped out of her seat to hand Mr. McCabe a pass. Zoe hefted her backpack onto her shoulders and walked out of the classroom. She had to meet her mom in front of the school at — parking was killer, so it would be a drive-by pickup.

Mid-class, the halls were hollow and resonant; it felt like trudging through the belly of a whale. It was warm enough outside to unzip her jacket and tilt her face to the sky, thinking of summer and soccer camp and what it would be like when her palate expander was finally removed. Would they get stuck together like jammed gears and have to be taken to the Emergency room at the hospital, and how totally humiliating would that be? Zoe ran her tongue along the ragged metal fenceposts in her mouth.

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Maybe she should just temporarily join a convent. And just about then, something exploded. Patrick sat at a red light in his unmarked police car, waiting to turn onto the highway. Beside him, on the passenger seat, was a paper bag with a brick of cocaine inside it.

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  4. He fiddled with the volume button of the dispatch radio just in time to hear the fire department being sent to the high school for some kind of explosion. Probably the boiler; the school was old enough for its internal structure to be falling apart. The discharge of a gun in Sterling was rare enough to have him narrow his attention to the voice on the dispatch radio, waiting for an explanation. Patrick wheeled the car in a U-turn and started toward the school with his lights flashing. Other voices began to transmit in static bursts: officers stating their positions in town; the on-duty supervisor trying to coordinate manpower and calling for mutual aid from Hanover and Lebanon.

    Their voices knotted and tangled, blocking each other so that everything and nothing was being said at once. Once was in Maine, when a deadbeat dad had taken an officer hostage. Once was in Sterling, during a potential bank robbery that turned out to be a false alarm. Signal meant that everyone, immediately, was to get off the radio and free dispatch up for the emergency. It was a clear acknowledgment that what they were dealing with was not routine. Chaos was a constellation of students, running out of the school and trampling the injured.

    Chaos was two girls, hugging each other and sobbing. Chaos was blood melting pink on the snow; it was the drip of parents that turned into a stream and then a raging river, screaming out the names of their missing children.

    Book club discussion questions for Nineteen Minutes

    Chaos was a TV camera in your face; not enough ambulances; not enough officers; and no plan for how to react when the world as you knew it went to pieces. Patrick pulled halfway onto the sidewalk and grabbed his bulletproof vest from the back of the car. Already, adrenaline was pulsing through him, making the edges of his vision swim and his senses more acute. By the time the SWAT team got here, a hundred more shots might be fired; a kid might be killed.

    He drew his gun. Patrick pushed through the double doors, past students who were shoving each other in an effort to get outside. Fire alarms blared, pulsing so loud that at first Patrick had to strain to hear the gunshots. He grabbed the coat of a boy streaking past him. The boy wrenched away from Patrick. Ceiling tiles had been shot off and a fine grey dust coated the broken bodies that lay twisted on the floor.

    Patrick ignored all of this, going against most of his training — running past doors that might hide a perp, disregarding rooms that should have been searched — instead driving toward the direction of the noise and the shrieks with his weapon drawn and his heart beating through every inch of his skin. Turning a corner, Patrick slipped on blood and heard another gunshot — this one loud enough to ring in his ears like a nightmare. Gesturing to the two cops beside him, they swept into the open double doors of the gymnasium.

    Patrick scanned the space — the handful of sprawled bodies, the basketball cart overturned and the globes resting against the far wall — and no shooter. Patrick spun around to the entrance again, to see if that was the case, and then heard another shot. It was a locker room, tiled white on the walls and the floor. He glanced down, saw the fanned spray of blood at his feet, and edged his gun around the corner wall. Two bodies lay unmoving at one end of the locker room.

    At the other, closer to Patrick, a slight boy crouched beside a bank of lockers. He wore a t-shirt that read Have a Whale of a Time! He held a pistol up to his head with one shaking hand. A new rush of blood surged through Patrick. Patrick let his forefinger brush gently against the trigger just as the boy opened his fingers wide as a starfish.

    The pistol fell to the floor, skittering across the tile. His head was spinning and his nose was running and his pulse was a military tattoo, but he could vaguely hear one of the other officers calling this in over the radio: Sterling, we have one in custody. Just as seamlessly as it had started, it was over — at least as much as something like this could be considered over, anytime soon. He sank down to his knees, mostly because his legs simply gave out from underneath them, and pretended that this was intentional; that he wanted to check out the two bodies lying just feet away from the shooter.

    He was vaguely aware of the shooter being pushed out of the locker room by one of the officers, to a waiting cruiser downstairs. A boy, dressed in a hockey jersey.

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    There was a puddle of blood underneath his side, and a gunshot wound through his forehead. He turned the brim around in his hands, an imperfect circle. The girl lying next to him was face down, blood spreading out from beneath her temple. She was barefoot, and on her toenails was bright pink polish — just like the stuff Tara had put on Patrick.

    It made his heart catch. This girl, just like his goddaughter and her brother and a million other kids in this country, had gotten up today and gone to school never imagining she would be in danger. She trusted all the grownups and teachers and principals to keep her safe.

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    Stunned, Patrick knelt beside her. She touched her hand to her forehead, and when it came away oily with blood, she panicked.

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    He should have stayed there, and waited for the medics to come get her. He should have radioed for help. But should hardly seemed to apply anymore; and so Patrick lifted Josie into his arms. Have a roundtable discussion on the nonfiction aspects raised in the book, such as the role of defense attorneys, peer pressure and the quest for popularity, victimization and bullying, and how school shootings are portrayed in the media.

    View a timeline of worldwide school shootings since In , I had the opportunity to witness a leadership conference in Connecticut, where seventy-five high school students from the greater Hartford, CT area all came together to discuss Improving School Climates, using 19 Minutes as a springboard for discussion. It was an amazing event to witness - to see kids committed to being the change they want to see in the world. Visit teenadvice. It is simple to use and can be implemented in a variety of settings to solicit thoughtful and reflective information.

    Ten Good Seconds of Silence: A novel

    It is an especially effective tool to use with middle and high school aged students. Physical set-up: Arrange a circle of chairs in the center of the room. The number of chairs should range from approximately a minimum of eight to a maximum of fifteen.

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    The chairs should be filled with those who will be in the discussion except for one empty chair. So, for example, if twelve individuals will be part of the discussion, then thirteen chairs should be arranged in the circle. All of those not participating in the discussion surround the center circle either sitting or standing. An identified moderator teacher facilitates the conversation. The empty chair thus allows any number of individuals not placed in the center circle to join the discussion as the conversation proceeds. It is important that those sitting in the empty chair only make statements and not ask questions.

    The reason for this is to insure that the evolving conversation is not redirected by asking the participants in the center circle a question that would change the essential content of the existing discussion. If the fish bowl model is going to be used during a class period lasting approximately an hour, in general, about four to five questions can be posed. Thus, four to five different core groups of discussants can be accommodated, always allowing for the inclusion of other individuals from the audience as they wish to join, and then leave the center circle.

    She expected the teacher to talk about a time-out chair, or some retributive punishment that would be handed out if Peter was again taunted by the in crowd. Lacy blinked at her. When his food gets knocked on the floor, he should reciprocate? I can tell you what you want to hear. I can say that Peter is a wonderful child, which he is.

    He was staring in a way that cut her to the quick.