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We Need to Talk About Kevin Hardcover – Mar 25 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; export ed edition (March 25 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582432678
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582432670
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 739 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #281,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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It's still difficult for me to venture into public. Read the first page
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kaitlyn Kochany on June 12 2005
Format: Paperback
Kevin Katchadourian is a parent's worst nightmare: a sullen child who abuses, manipulates, and controls everyone around him. Eva, his mother, seems to know something is terribly wrong with her son from the moment she gives birth, as he grasps for his father and turns a baleful eye towards his mother. As he gets older, Eva's maternal instincts about her dark child places him at the center of incident after incident: playgoups that are dismantled; misterious bike accidents; sexual precocity. As Kevin grows up and Eva bears a beautiful young daughter, the family dynamic becomes even more explosive as she and her husband Franklin take sides against Kevin and his malevolence.
The inorexible march towards the conclusion - Kevin's violent and methodical attack on his classmates - made my stomach tie itself up in knots. Eva is helpless as he controls the Katchadourians and eventually destroys everyone around him.
Taking the form of letters written to her husband, Franklin, Eva reflects on her marriage, her children, the nature of violence and hypocrisy in America, and what it feels like to be the mother of a disturbed and dangerous child. This is not a light book, but it is a necessary one. Her inability to mother Kevin is perhaps an insightful look at those women who bore the real-life School Killers, and Lionel Shriver should be congratulated on her brave and difficult work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Stover TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 24 2012
Format: Paperback
The novel's back-cover blurb makes no secret of the horror shown only at its climax -- a 1999 New York school shooting perpetrated by 15-year-old Kevin, the son of successful tourbook writer Eva Khatchadourian and advertising location scout Franklin Plaskett. There's nothing to spoiler in the bare facts. Nearly two years later, Eva struggles to make sense of her intensely problematic relationship with her now-imprisoned son in a series of letters to her "estranged husband" (so the blurb also tells us).

If it matters to the reader, Lionel Shriver is a woman -- she changed her first name in her late teens, as she hated her given name. The school shooting in the novel takes place 11 days before Columbine, and this does get repeatedly mentioned in the novel, as do a number of other real-life school shootings from the 1990's.

Anyway, it's the details of this detail-oriented novel that shouldn't be spoiled: Eva's lacerating and self-lacerating evaluations of herself and others drive the book. Is she a reliable narrator? Was Kevin born bad, made bad, or resulted from a combination of the two? Well, that's the novel, isn't it?

I note that some reviewers have referred to this novel as a "thriller," though there's nothing thrilling about it: I found it difficult to put down, but not because I was having a wild romp. You're stuck inside Eva's head for the entire novel, and that's going to be trying for a lot of readers. She isn't instantly sympathetic. I'm not entirely sure that she's even finally sympathetic, a judgement I'd extend to the two other main characters of the novel, her husband Franklin Plaskett and the eponymous Kevin.

Plaskett needs desperately to believe in the possibility of the American Dream's happy nuclear family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gaildianne on Sept. 24 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is well worth reading, but it does not take you to a happy place. The subject is disturbing and the struggle between mother and son very real. The outcome surprised me and left a lasting image. This is not a book you will easily forget.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Samantha TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 25 2007
Format: Paperback
While all of Shriver's books grab me by the second page, despite some slight pretentions, this book is outstanding in its honesty and depth of character development. These fictional people are etched indelibly in my mind. Her unique style of making you hate her characters but wanting the best outcome for them is genius. This is not a fun read, by any measures, but one that won't disappoint. It is a vastly disturbing, devouring but strangely satisfying masterpiece fit for those greedy for darkly thematic literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D Barratt on Dec 1 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had never read Lionel Shriver before but her bio at the back of the book hooked me first - and the book did not dissapoint. If anything, it was the best book
I have ever read. The story is told by Eva, through letters to her husband two years after their son Kevin, who has been her nemisis since he was born, one day calmly kills a select few of his classmates, a teacher and an innocent. As Eva tries to dissect the tragedy and what role she may have played in it, she strips bare every facet of their lives together, scratching deep into every emotion until it bleeds with raw honesty.

The book is horrifying, in every way possible....while this is a work of fiction, the subject matter, and what it says about 'us' is not. It IS us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kristine on Nov. 14 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this book on impulse after reading about it on a '10 books you've never heard of, but need to read' list. Amazing book! The first few pages made me wonder what I'd gotten myself into but I soon forgot about that. It left me with more questions than answers ... but then I guess that's the point of a thought inducing book right? Anyways great read about what has become, sadly, an all to common occurance. Definately worth your time!
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