February 27, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release Date (Harper edition): July 3, 2006

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.

Warning: this book is not YA but adult, and it contains very mature and very disturbing content. I do not recommend it for kids or teens.

The books that leave the reader blatantly puzzled as to how on earth anyone could have imagined such a plot are arguably the best ones. And those that leave the bittersweet taste of a terrible, unimaginable, catastrophically awful story told in such a vivid and tangible way, even more so. The voice in this story, Eva's voice, is so powerful that I had to wonder at several points if I was really reading a work of fiction. Sweet mother of books, what an intense and awe-striking story! Put on your big boy pants, hold your heart real tight and be prepared to ask yourself questions that, before this book, you hadn't even remotely considered. Unfathomable.

Yes, I'll admit that the fluffy I-swallowed-a-dictionary writing grew tiresome at times, even if I must admit that it was deeply well written, but at some point, I just gave in and stopped looking up fancy words and I let the story just flow overlooking many of her sophisticated terms. I was helpless, from the moment I started, Eva was nagging me at all times, to keep reading.

I can't even begin to understand the absolute perfection of character development or the magnificent effortless flow of the plot, so I won't attempt to analyze it for you. I'll just say that if anyone does not like this book, it will always have to do with either the subject or the dizzying array of words but never, ever because of its quality of literature. It is a profusely disturbing, haunting, terrifyingly hard story to read, even nauseating at times. I LOVED it and it's probably one of the BEST books I have EVER read. I do not throw that lightly, btw.

Note: As you may know, a film has been made and I can't wait to see it! BUT, and I have reprieved my frustration about this, it will apparently never come to Houston. I found this schedule, so maybe YOU can go watch it and gloat about it while I huddle sobbing on a corner.


  1. I thought about reading this. The movie is really incredible; I actually watched it online so you could probably do the same. Great review; I'll definitely read it now.

  2. I absolutely love the book. I was shaken by the ending, understandably, but thought it was just so fantastic.

    The movie I enjoyed but not as much. I thought it was a little too art-house - don't get me wrong, I love art house - but some of it was lost on me.
    Worth seeing, but not as good as I anticipated it.

  3. I've had this on my wish list for quite awhile. I think I will have to pick it up this week. It sounds like something I will love too. (Especially since we have such similar (and good) taste)

  4. I could kick myself for not picking this up when I saw it now! That is quite the review, and sounds like something that needs to be in my life.


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