Saturday, April 21, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lionel Shriver
400 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Source: purchased

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

It's not very often that I review an adult novel on my blog, but I read We Need to Talk About Kevin for my online book club and it was so incredible and powerful that I have no choice but to share it with you.  This book was terrifying.  As someone who is hoping to have a baby someday... it's just terrifying.

WNTTAK is written in the form of letters from Eva to her estranged husband, Franklin, as she tries to figure out why her son, Kevin, went on a killing spree in his high school.  Kevin slaughtered seven students, a teacher, and a cafeteria worker and as the two year anniversary approaches, Eva is trying to work out why Kevin did this and who is to blame as she recounts Kevin's life from conception to incarceration.

Ultimately I felt this book boiled down to one theme - nature vs. nurture.  I've always believed it's a combination of the two (let's be honest, nothing in life is black and white) but WNTTAK really made me think about it even more.  For the first third of the novel I tended to side with nurture; Kevin's mother doesn't come off as very likable and she has obvious disdain for her baby.  I thought no matter what Kevin does, you have to at least in part blame his mother.  When I see school shootings on the television, I think the same thing.  These parents that cry into the camera and say they had no idea their son was capable of killing, how can I believe that?  How can you give birth to someone and not know?

But as the book continued on, I felt my opinions shifting.  Eva was trying, she really was, to get through to Kevin.  And yet all those things he did, how can that be mostly nurture?  It surely seemed a lot more like nature at that point, and that was even before the killings happened.

This was a serious, hardcore book.  It takes time to read because you have to digest every single word Eva writes to Franklin; how could you not?  In my desperate attempt to understand why Kevin was how he was, I had to read and re-read to try to understand.  It's a fictional account, but that's how well Lionel Shriver wrote it.  I was drawn in and as invested as if it were real.

Five stars!  I loved this book and even though the twist is so predictable I had it all figured out by page 138, I still thought it was perfectly written.   I highly, highly recommend even if adult fiction is not normally your thing.  This book is important and I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am very interested in seeing it now, even though it will probably terrify me even more.

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