We Need to Talk About Kevin

Shriver, Lionel

(eBook - 2006)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Two years ago, Eva Khatchadourian's son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a popular algebra teacher. Because he was only fifteen at the time of the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is now in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York. Telling the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses herself to her estranged husband through a series of letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault? Lionel Shriver tells a compelling, absorbing, and resonant story while framing these horrifying tableaux of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy - the tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.
Publisher: London : Serpent's Tail, 2006, c2005
Edition: 5 star paperback ed
ISBN: 9781852424671
Branch Call Number: Electronic Book
Characteristics: 468 p
Additional Contributors: ebrary
Alternate Title: Public Library Complete


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Dec 16, 2014
  • KindianaJones rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I read it quickly and compulsively. I couldn't stop. I have issue with one of the major plot points of the novel (I didn't think it was credible), but couldn't imagine how it would've worked any other way.

Formatted as letters written to her husband a year later, this is the painful and reflective voice of a mother recognizing what went wrong when her teenage son methodically plans and kills 9 people at his high school.

Sep 07, 2014
  • Laphroaig rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Less than half way through, I wanted to shout "Uncle!", but I persevered. This book suffers from a lack of disciplined pruning. It's powerful, but much, much too long and wordy.

May 16, 2014
  • ashleysears rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I was ready to bring this book back to the library. The way this woman writes letters to her husband and the words she uses reminded me of watching Dawson's Creek when I was younger - people in read life do not talk like this. As the story goes on, I sort of warmed up to her, she isn't the perfect mother. She wasn't horrible either - how could her children turn out so completely different from each other - they were born like that. Why do I think he spares his mother that Thursday? Because she is the only one who has ever known the real Kevin, who has seen him for who he really is not someone they want him to be.

Jan 25, 2014
  • stewstealth rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a well written novel done in an epistolary fashion. Though ostensibly about her psychopathic son the broader look of the novel is American culture, parenthood and relationships. Very well crafted and an interesting read.

Aug 15, 2013
  • samutavi rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I saw the movie before I read this book. Even though I knew from the start what the painful revelation would be at the end of the story that did not lessen the emotional impact. This is a good (and difficult) book. There are some very honest moments about the ambiguity and doubt that can sometimes plague you as a parent. It is an extreme example in that the child does something particularly awful, but the challenges his actions present to his mother are reflective of the more typical difficulties of parenting. This one made me think.

Jul 15, 2013
  • everydayathena rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A dark and compelling book.
The plot, despite its unusual focus (most mothers, thankfully, do not give birth to monsters), was incredibly plausible - at no point did I find myself doubting that this could happen. I did struggle with the 'weight' of the book - meaning, I found the heavy subject matter difficult to bear - but I was absolutely gripped throughout. I found myself thinking of that now-famous blog post titled "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother". I also connected strongly with the protagonist. Some reviewers below have complained about her character flaws, but I think that's the point - she isn't a madonna, but rather a regular woman who can, at times be petty and mean. She has her limits and her psychopathic son, even as a toddler, incessantly pushes those limits.
In her essay "Life is Precious, Or It Isn't", Barbara Kingsolver expressed her empathy for the parents of the Columbine school shooters, who " must surely live with the deepest emotional pain it is possible to bear". This novel made me acutely aware of that emotional pain, and of the unfathomable weight of the cross borne by the parents of kids who kill.

Jun 22, 2013
  • WVMLBookClubTitles rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The mother of a teenage boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-beloved teacher who had tried to befriend him relates the story of her son’s upbringing in an attempt to find out what went wrong. She considers motherhood, marriage, family and career, while framing these horrifying tableaus of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.

May 23, 2013
  • finn75 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

An amazing book. Twist at the end floored me. Is someone born evil or do they become that way? Extremely well written.

Totally loved this book! Couldn't put it down. The subject matter is horrifying and scary. Loved the way it was written.

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Jun 06, 2013
  • JCLJedD rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

"You can only subject people to anguish who have a conscience. You can only punish people who have hopes to frustrate or attachments to sever; who worry what you think of them. You can really only punish people who are already a little bit good." Eva on the futility of punishing Kevin


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app06 Version jokkmokk Last updated 2015/01/27 09:55