Title: We Need to Talk About Kevin
Author: Lionel Shriver
Review: Through a series of letters written from Eva to her husband Franklin, author Lionel Shriver takes you through the brutally honest hauntings of a parents’ worst nightmare. While reading this book I was disgusted with Eva. How could she possibly think and feel this way towards her own son? The more I read, the less disgusted I became. I found myself even sympathizing with her, which surprised me. Having finished this novel last night, I’m still disturbed by it today.
This novel is thought-provoking not only for the reader but for Eva. From what I take, she’s writing these letters to her husband not to relive the horrors but to answer the question to why her son murdered several people and whether or not she is at fault. After all, many others blame her. She even admits to being a bad mother. Is she really though? You’re brought to question this thought. What makes a bad mother?
Eva’s letters are fascinating to read in the way that you watch a horror movie between the cracks of two fingers on your hand. It’s uncomfortable to read some of the thoughts she has about her son and her experience of motherhood. What is it about it that makes it so “uncomfortable?” Is it because we don’t want to think about a mother feeling this way about her own child? Is it because we don’t want to believe that there is such thing as a “dark side” to motherhood or in that case, such a thing as a “bad mother?” Is it because we don’t get to hear the answer to the “why?” and are therefore frustrated because there really is no answer?
Whether you would like to label this novel as “controversial” or use it as a “nature vs. nurture” study, this novel is well written. Lionel Shriver seems to have constructed each sentence so thoughtfully that you want to take your time in reading it.
I cannot say that I enjoyed this book, especially because of the disturbed feeling that has haunted me throughout the read and now after. But I don’t believe this is a book that is meant to be enjoyed for its story, it’s meant to make you think. It’s meant to make us talk about it. It’s mean to make us talk about Kevin. We need to talk about Kevin (hence, the title). Just wait until you read the ending.
Conclusion: Overall, this novel is haunting, skillfully written, thought-provoking and recommended (although with a warning that it’s not for the faint of heart reader). It would make a great book for a book club.
About the Author: Lionel Shriver is a novelist whose previous books include Orange Prize–winner We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Post-Birthday World, A Perfectly Good Family, Game Control, Double Fault, The Female of the Species, Checker and the Derailleurs, and Ordinary Decent Criminals. She is widely published as a journalist, writing features, columns, op-eds, and book reviews for the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Economist, Marie Claire, and many other publications. She is frequently interviewed on television, radio, and in print media. She lives in London and Brooklyn, NY. (Source: HarperCollins, Publishers).
To purchase: This novel is available at Chapters and Indigo stores as well as many other retailers in North America.
Discussion Questions: Will you or have you watched the movie that was recently made about this novel? After having read this book, did you feel much like I did? Or did different thoughts and feelings come to you?