Wednesday, November 21, 2012

we need to talk about kevin

First of all, do not read We Need to Talk About Kevin if you need to like the characters in order to enjoy a book. You will not like Eva and you will certainly not like Kevin.

This is a story about a high school shooter named Kevin Khatchadourian told from the POV of his mother, Eva. Eva is writing letters to her husband Franklin, who is no longer a part of her life. She writes about the struggles of her current situation, since the entire country knows about Kevin (he's also known as KK) and the community generally despises her, especially the family and friends of Kevin's nine victims. She writes about visiting Kevin in the juvenile detention center and the infrequent talks they have. But mostly she writes about the past: her exciting life before Kevin (Eva was a world traveler and owned a travel guide company), her uncertainty about choosing to become a mother, and Kevin's childhood. Although he seemed evil to Eva from the very start
he wouldn't nurse, he didn't speak even when he knew how to talk, he cried all day, he wasn't potty trained until he was six, he seemed malicious in his childish mistakesFranklin loves Kevin and thinks Eva is crazy for constantly believing her son is her enemy. Kevin's strangeness only increases as he ages. He is contemptuous, passionless, and seems to especially hate Eva. Of course all this leads up to the massacre at his school, which he carefully plans and, afterward, regards with pride.

It took a little while for me to get into this book. Eva is an awful person, so reading the story in her words can be difficult. Her word choice is pretentious, she obviously never really wanted to be a mother, and of course you have to wonder if Kevin's madness is partially her fault. But as I got deeper into the story, I was mesmerized. Eva and Kevin are very interesting characters, even if I despised them both. And the story brings up some complex ideas about motherhood and nature/nurture. Was Eva aways right in blaming Kevin for things that went wrong? Was Franklin a complete fool or did he really believe Kevin was essentially a good kid? And most importantly, was Eva to blame or was Kevin inherently evil? 

Just a really interesting read and I loved the ending.

TITLE: We Need to Talk About Kevin
AUTHOR: Lionel Shriver
DATE FINISHED: 21 November 2012
VERDICT: 4/5 stars. Dark, but very interesting.

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