Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Laura's Review - We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lionel Shriver
468 pages

First sentence: Dear Franklin, I'm not sure why one trifling incident this afternoon has moved me to write to you.

Reflections: This is the story of Kevin Khatchadourian, who kills seven high school students, a teacher, and a cafeteria worker just a few days before his 16th birthday. Through letters to her husband, Kevin's mother Eva chronicles his childhood, the horrible events leading up to the massacre, and its aftermath. Eva is searching for answers, and for peace. When did it all begin? Were there pivotal events that set this tragedy in motion? Was it before Kevin was born, when Eva first resented pregnancy's inconveniences? Or, when he wouldn't nurse? Did her postpartum depression have a lasting impact? Or, did Kevin just hate being alive, from the very moment of his birth? There is no hero in this story. All of the characters are flawed and, in fact, even unlikeable. Eva is self-centered and resents the "intrusion" of children in her life. Her husband Franklin is the eternal optimist, failing to see the destructive patterns in Kevin's behavior. And Kevin, of course, is troubled and angry.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a harrowing and devastatingly sad tale with no clear answers. Kevin's motives are unclear, and while there were many occasions where his parents could have handled a situation differently, their actions were understandable. Any parent reading this book can emphathize and see how they, too, could have made similar decisions.

Lionel Shriver won the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction for this highly-recommended work. ( )

My original review can be found here.

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