The book I’ll be reviewing today is We Need to Talk about Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. I read it earlier on in the year, I think, in early September, but I wasn’t blogging then, and I really want to talk about this book.
I read about it in John Waters’ memoir, Role Models, ((If anyone is wondering, it’s a crazy-ass book with laugh-out-loud moments and I recommend it to anybody who isn’t conservative in their tastes because yeah, calling it off-beat would be a bit of an understatement, guvnor! ßThat was an Easy A reference, just FYI) in a chapter dedicated solely to book recommendations. I have often found that if memoirs have chapters dedicated solely to book recommendations, or favourite books, my liking for said memoir goes up exponentially. And if I happen to like any of the recommended books, my liking for the writer of that memoir goes up exponentially. Strange-ish coincidence I think? But I digress.
We Need to Talk about Kevin is one dark, effed-book, which obviously means I thoroughly enjoyed it. (This may not be obvious yet, since this is a new blog, but it will be. Especially after I post my 14 favourites of 2014.) It’s very well-written and it just sucks you in and makes you feel the bleakness that the narrator feels throughout the book. I was very sad for the one and a half days I was racing through this book and for a bit of time after. It gave me a book hangover. (This term, for those who are unfamiliar, refers to a phenomenon where a book is just so good that you can’t pick up another one for a while, during which time you marinate and think about just how good (and terrifying) the book was.)
This book is about a boy named Kevin who, 3 days short of his 16th birthday, commits a mass massacre at his school and is then convicted and imprisoned for it. As I said before, it’s written from the perspective of Eva, Kevin’s mother who is attempting to come to terms with the incident almost two years after it occurred.
This book gives us the unique perspective of a mass murderer’s family, and how they deal with this terrible thing that their offspring has done. We see that Eva is also ostracised for Kevin’s behaviour within the community where they live, and that she even gets sued by one of the victim’s mothers for negligent parenting. This is a side we never get to see, I think and it really fascinated me and drew me in.
The book is very one-sided in a way, because one only gets to see Eva’s side of things, and never Kevin’s. She’s a very atypical mother who seems to distrust and almost dislike Kevin from the start, and her descriptions of him are terrifying, because he honestly sounds like the world’s worst baby and toddler. I kept telling myself to take it in with a pinch of salt especially because Eva was a person who never wanted to be a mother, and felt that she lacked the maternal instinct since before she got pregnant, throughout her pregnancy and even after giving birth, but talked herself into doing it anyway, because of what can only be described as a whim. But then, I remember that he actually killed a bunch of people and then I wondered, what if Eva’s descriptions are accurate and Kevin was actually born being a so-called ‘bad person’? Throughout this book, I wondered, did her lack of affection make Kevin the way he is, or is he just born an unlovable child? Of course, I can never make up my mind, because all we have is Eva’s point of view. It left me in a state of limbo throughout the book which added to the feeling and confusion and tension in the book. And it interests me greatly that Kevin’s shooting is not the climax of the story and the climax is something completely different, which is both amazing and terrifying at the same time.
This is an amazing book, even though the ending was a little weak in my opinion. I still gave it 5 stars on Goodreads because it really had a massive impact on me. I actually wondered what it would be like to have a child and to know that there’s something severely, terrifyingly ‘off’ about them and being completely helpless to do anything about it.
Read it when you’re relatively cheerful and read it slowly, in small doses, but definitely read this one. 🙂
Ooh and this book is perfect for the Halloween themed reads everyone has been doing.
On that note,