We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel Paperback – Jul 3 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Book written in letter format which is not my idea of a good book. Excellent shipping and pricePublished 3 months ago by Shaunne
Heart wrenching story. Vocabulary overload, but worth expanding the mind.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
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 9 months 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 10 months ago by reallybigmeandog
Item arrived in a timely manor and is exactly as I expected it.Published 23 months ago by Amber Eisler