Friday, February 22, 2013

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

We Need to Talk About KevinEva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

This is probably one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Everything about it is so beautifully, so cleverly done that it’s hard to find what to praise first.

Let me start with the characters. Since this is literary fiction, the characters are obviously the most important aspect of the novel. Eva, the narrator and Kevin’s mother, is an incredibly real person, someone you can identify, despite some of her personality’s nastier aspects. Her voice bursts through the pages, someone as indomitable as her son, Kevin. Speaking of him, he’s the other fabulous character in this book. We see him through his mother’s eyes, so we of course have a biased view, but even through that lens we see someone fascinatingly complex. Despite his many, many faults, he is someone the reader gets to know and empathize with.

The writing is just fabulous. The story unwinds itself slowly as the pages turn, revealing little by little the tragedy that overtook Eva’s life. It is so cleverly written, giving us just tastes of the truth, hints of what’s to come. It might be literary fiction but it keeps the reader at the edge of his or her seat like a thriller.

As if you couldn’t tell by now, I recommend this book to everyone (except younger readers, of course, since there are pretty graphic images of both a violent and sexual nature). This is one that just must be read.

1 comment:

Book Bunny said...

Great review :) I have watched the movie and it was amazing but I believe the book is even better!