Newest Review: ... growing into a difficult child and young adult who, as a teenager, commits a terrible crime. This, however, is definitely not a thril... more
We Need to Talk About This Book
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
Member Name: onlyliana
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
Advantages: Original format. Fascinating story.
Disadvantages: Sombre topic that may not be to everybodies taste.
I love reading and find myself becoming deeply engrossed in the books I read. None more so than Lionel Shriver's 'We Need To Talk About Kevin'.
It is one of my favourite novels, which might be difficult to understand given the topic, and I have reread it several times.
Kevin Khatchadourian embarks on a high school massacre killing 9 people when he is 15. His mother, Eva, Narrates through a series of letters to her estranged husband, Franklin, and depicts her attempts to come to terms with the murders her son committed.
Eva discusses her experiences of motherhood and contemplates how her behaviours in raising Kevin may have shaped him to become a murderer.
The story is written in the first person from Eva's perspective through her letters to her husband and documents both her inner thoughts and experiences from life before Kevin was born up until present day where he is in a juvenile detention centre.
I found the writing style very much draws you into the Eva's head and envelopes you into believing her side of the story. On reflection I feel that the writing style raised many questions. Why do we never hear a reply from Franklin? Is Eva being completely truthful? Maybe her shame is causing her to censor the letters? Perhaps her loathing for her son could be projected into her letters, proportioning more blame onto him?
I found the book to be completely engrossing and deeply affecting. I felt that the wind had been knocked out of me when I reached the conclusion.
There are so many issues raised by Shriver's story. Common themes include:
- Nature versus Nurture
I found myself wondering whether people are born a certain way? Or are they made what they are by those early life experiences?
I detected throughout the story that Eva never felt a real connection to her son. As it was a one sided version of events I found it difficult to decide. Eva's perspective indicates that he was an unresponsive child and that this in turn made her indifferent towards him, but is this just Eva trying to defend that she didn't care for him as she should?
As a relactant parent in the first place I felt that Eva perhaps resisted being a maternal figure. One instance where Kevin destroys her office walls that she has papered with great time and care makes me question this.
Surely a small child cannot have the mental capacity to viciously destroy something in an act of cruelty towards his mother. Eva takes this incident as a personal sleight rather than just the mere actions of a child playing with things he shouldn't be.
As mentioned above Eva is reluctant to have children. She is career minded and very driven, it is her love for her husband that eventually makes up her mind to have a child rather than her maternal yearnings.
I am not a parent myself and am not sure whether I see children in my future or not. Children are expensive and time consuming and I wonder whether that is the sort of sacrifice I am capable of. The book highlights that social norms are still very much presents, as in that marriage and children are a given part of growing up. More and more people are going against this everyday and I wonder how many people do have children purely because of social pressure.
- Unconditional Love
Society would have us believe you should love your child whatever but Eva's story left me wondering why? Should pure biology be the sole basis for a loving relationship? Do you have to like someone purely because you share DNA?
- American Culture
High school massacres/shootings are sadly more and more common. They are also a topic of massive interest and debate throughout the United States. Blame has been dished out to video games, music genres and the gun industry but to name a few.
I personally believe that there is not one single thing that causes young people to commit such atrocities but many different things combined. Who is to say what causes someone to snap? It could indeed be a video game but could of course be upbringing, mental illness or personality.
The book itself tackles such a wide spectrum of issues and I believe it would make an excellent read for a book club as there is a huge scope for discussion.
Summary: Highly recommended.