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A number of fictional attempts have been made to portray what might lead a teenager to kill a number of schoolmates or teachers, Columbine style, but Shriver's is the most triumphantly accomplished by far. A gifted journalist as well as the author of seven novels, she brings to her story a keen understanding of the intricacies of marital and parental relationships as well as a narrative pace that is both compelling and thoughtful. Eva Khatchadourian is a smart, skeptical New Yorker whose impulsive marriage to Franklin, a much more conventional person, bears fruit, to her surprise and confessed disquiet, in baby Kevin. From the start Eva is ambivalent about him, never sure if she really wanted a child, and he is balefully hostile toward her; only good-old-boy Franklin, hoping for the best, manages to overlook his son's faults as he grows older, a largely silent, cynical, often malevolent child. The later birth of a sister who is his opposite in every way, deeply affectionate and fragile, does nothing to help, and Eva always suspects his role in an accident that befalls little Celia. The narrative, which leads with quickening and horrifying inevitability to the moment when Kevin massacres seven of his schoolmates and a teacher at his upstate New York high school, is told as a series of letters from Eva to an apparently estranged Franklin, after Kevin has been put in a prison for juvenile offenders. This seems a gimmicky way to tell the story, but is in fact surprisingly effective in its picture of an affectionate couple who are poles apart, and enables Shriver to pull off a huge and crushing shock far into her tale. It's a harrowing, psychologically astute, sometimes even darkly humorous novel, with a clear-eyed, hard-won ending and a tough-minded sense of the difficult, often painful human enterprise.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* In a series of brutally introspective missives to her husband, Franklin, from whom she is separated, Eva tries to come to grips with the fact that their 17-year-old son, Kevin, has killed seven students and two adults with his crossbow. Guiltily she recalls how, as a successful writer, she was terrified of having a child. Was it for revenge, then, that from the moment of his birth Kevin was the archetypal difficult child, screaming for hours, refusing to nurse, driving away countless nannies, and intuitively learning to "divide and conquer" his parents? When their daughter, loving and patient Celia, is born, Eva feels vindicated; but as the gap between her view of Kevin as a "Machiavellian miscreant" and Franklin's efforts to explain away their son's aberrant behavior grows wider, they find themselves facing divorce. In crisply crafted sentences that cut to the bone of her feelings about motherhood, career, family, and what it is about American culture that produces child killers, Shriver yanks the reader back and forth between blame and empathy, retribution and forgiveness. Never letting up on the tension, Shriver ensures that, like Eva, the reader grapples with unhealed wounds. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I couldn't put this book down. The story of a mother who doesn't quite love her son but is devoted non the less, with a shocking end.Published 20 days ago by stemacsand
I don' t even know where to start. The premise is brilliant. Does nature vs nurture mean anything? Does the lack of a mothers love make a man unable to love? Read morePublished 1 month ago by reallybigmeandog
Item arrived in a timely manor and is exactly as I expected it.Published 13 months ago by Amber Eisler
I found the storyline riveting, but some of the writing over emphasising the authors knowledge of big words, when simple ones would have sufficed. It is horrific, but believable. Read morePublished 14 months ago by PJ
This book,was recommended to me and I am very glad I read it. Very disturbing, but interesting and well written. Definitely gives you things to think about.Published 18 months ago by Eileen Land
Ultimately, I was disappointed in this movie, because of the lack of resolution. Read more
I purchased this book based on a side bubble in a magazine that said it was a story about the ultimate bad seed. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Cherry Barrel