Posted in: Desert Isle Keeper, reviews
Tags:lionel shriver, teenage criminals, We need to talk about kevin
Eeek, have you guys read this yet? All I can say is WOAH!
Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
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.
One could be forgiven for thinking that this was a true story, but after reading it, I learned that it wasn’t, and I have to say, I was more than a little gob-smacked. This is a book that I would like to do an in-depth review on, but honestly, I’m not sure I could do it justice.
We Need To Talk About Kevin was beyond brilliant. It really was.
Told from the point of view of Kevin’s mother, Eva Khatchadourian, as a series of letters from Eva to her husband, we find out almost immediately that Kevin had committed a heinous crime. The reader isn’t told exactly what it is Kevin has done, but it becomes pretty obvious early on, even without reading the blurb (I didn’t read the blurb). Well I say it becomes obvious – although there was a feeling of inevitability throughout, I was still shocked to my core when the details of Kevin’s most heinous act was unveiled (to my mind anyway), towards the end of the book.
We Need To Talk About Kevin is a powerfully moving book that delves into the old-age question of nature vs nurture.
I found myself wanting to sympathise with Kevin’s mother, Eva, but she really made it hard. The tone of her letters read so flat, and emotionless, and it was this very lack of emotion, that made this a chilling, but superb read.
Everything was told in a very matter of fact way – coldly analytical, I guess one could describe it as.
Eva’s lack of maternal instinct before and after Kevin was born was brilliantly portrayed in the book. I didn’t need a hammer banging over my head to tell me that something was wrong with her reaction to her son. It was there in the way that she dressed him, the way that she played with him, and it was there in the way that she tried to over-compensate for the lack of affection that she felt for her baby boy.
I don’t know why, but in the end, instead of condemning Eva for her lack of emotional attachment to her own child, I understood it, which is crazy to me. I guess that my personal belief that some kids are just born bad, probably helped when it came to understanding her. There were some random acts of evil that Kevin carried out, before his final act against his fellow students, that increased my sympathy for Eva. To my mind, there are some acts of violence that are too hateful, to be excused and explained away by something as simple as “my mommy didn’t love me enough”.
If anything, I was way more resentful of Kevin’s father Franklin. He seemed so blinded by Kevin, so taken in by him, and I didn’t get that. Then I’d remember that I was reading the story from Eva’s point of view, and so I had to acknowledge that my perceptions may have been slightly tainted by her biased portrayal.
We Need To Talk About Kevin is a book that will chill you to your bones, mostly because, although on this occasion, it’s a fictional story, the fact is, Kevin’s crimes have been committed by real life versions of him. Their reasons may not have been the same, but the acts remain in our collective history books, reminding us, that evil deeds are not limited to the weird, middle-aged hermit who lives across the street.
This book is not for the faint-hearted, or indeed for those who don’t have a great grasp of the English language. It’s littered with ten dollar words that will have you reaching for the dictionary every two seconds, so make sure you have one within reach. You’ll probably need it.
By the way, I was shocked to read that WNTTAK was rejected a whole load of times, before it was finally picked up by a small publishing company. It had zero marketing budget but word soon spread. Word of mouth really can work wonders. I myself Kindled it, after having a conversation with a Twitter pal about it. It sounded intriguing so I bought it there and then. Don’t you just love Kindle?
Anyway, you can Amazon.com We Need To Talk About Kevin here, buy it from UK Amazon here, and I would direct you to Lionel’s website, but either she doesn’t have one, or I can’t freaking find it. Sigh.