Monday, March 12, 2012
Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Publishing Date: March 23rd, 2003
Genre: Adult Fiction, Award-Winner
Pages: 400 pgs
Rating: 5 stars
Summary from Goodreads:
The gripping international bestseller about motherhood gone awry
Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.
This book had been sitting on my book shelf for years (yes, I said years) and I had tried to pick it up a few times but the language in this book is quite difficult at times. It wasn't that I didn't know what the vocabulary meant but I find when there is too much language like that the book becomes a bit of a chore to read. That being said, I decided to try my luck with the audiobook version and I found that I had better success with this. Listening to an audiobook is definitely a different experience than reading a book and I found that in this case it made the story flow a whole lot better.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It is about a mother who is dealing with the fact that her son has gone on a killing spree at his school. The book is written as a series of letters to the husband and I thought it worked quite well that way. The wife is trying to tell her side of the story and to let her husband know that she felt like something was wrong with Kevin right from the get go. That being said, the narrator (the mother/wife) is of course an unreliable narrator. I was constantly asking myself if Kevin was this way from birth or if Kevin was a product of his mother thinking he was a monster for the whole of his life.
This book brings up the whole nature/nurture theme quite well. What makes someone the way they are, especially when dealing with a murderer. It was such a disturbing book because you can't help but wonder what if that happened to you. How would I deal with the fact that my child killed other people? It would be a parent's worst nightmare. There is a bit of twist in the story, which I will not tell you but I have to admit that I had it figured out from the beginning of the novel. Most people say that they never saw it coming but I don't think that knowing made the book any less good. I really enjoyed this book because it raises so many questions and it really gets you thinking about things. I found that I couldn't get this book out of my head, long after it was done. Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.