Friday, July 23, 2010

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

  We Need to Talk About Kevin is not a book I would have picked up on my own -- why would I want to read a novel about a kid who commits mass murder in his school when there is sadly too much of that in reality?  However, seeing it recommended by two bloggers whose opinions I respect and generally agree with - Becky at Page Turners and Boof at The Book Whisperer - I felt that I needed to give it a go.

  Eva, Kevin's mother, is writing letters to Kevin's father, Franklin, in the aftermath of the tragedy that Kevin has created.  In these letters, she is brutally honest in a way that she couldn't or wouldn't be in face to face conversations; she explains how she was quite happy with her lifestyle as a travel-guide writer/publisher, jetting off to research locations for months at a time, yet being happy to arrive home to Franklin.  The decision to have a child put a hold on this for her, and with the arrival of Kevin, you immediately sense that Eva regrets his birth and the sacrifices she will be forced to make.  She tells Franklin of all the incidents in Kevin's childhood that indicated he was not a well-adjusted boy; incidents that at the time Franklin accuses her of fabricating just to make Kevin look like an evil child. 

  She explains the day -- Thursday as she refers to it -- when Kevin locks nine people in the school gymnasium and massacres them.  She talks of her visits to Kevin in the juvenile detention center -- visits that neither of them care for.  And tells Franklin about the effect Kevin's actions have had on her personally.

  Eva is not a likeable person -- I found her vain and shallow -- but then I think about what she has endured and I wonder how I would act in the same situation.  Who can even imagine what that would be like?

  I didn't love this book, but it was an interesting, if disturbing read.  I agree with Boof that it is an excellent choice for book group discussions; it would be fascinating to hear what parents have to say about it.


  1. Thanks, the book sounds like I would not like it either!!

  2. i have this on my shelf, along with 2 other Shriver books that i won... i picked it up once and it didn't grab me right away so i put it back on the shelf... but, i'll get through it one of these days.

  3. I've read so many reviews of this, and like you, I haven't quite been able to make myself read it....

  4. I have been on the fence about whether to read this book. Just reading the details you shared in your review caused some gut-clenching reactions. :-)

  5. I really want to try this one. I think it's impossible to love the book, considering the subject matter, but I hope it was informative. I'm a teacher & I can't imagine this happening at a school I teach at, but to read about Columbine-esque events from a parent's perspective would be eye-opening to see how things progressed to this devastating point. Thanks for your review.

  6. You're right, Teacher/Learner, it's hard to love a book like this one. It is very well written, I just wish I could have find something to like in any of the characters.


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)