Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Title:  We Need To Talk About Kevin
Author:  Lionel Shriver
Publication Information:  Counterpoint, Perseus Books Group. 2003. 497 pages.

Book Source:  I picked this book because reading the publicity about the movie based on the book.

Favorite Quote:  "When you're the parent, no matter what the accident, no matter how far away you were at the time and how seemingly powerless to avert it, a child's misfortune feels like your fault. You all your kids have, and their own conviction that you will protect them is contagious."

We Need To Talk About Kevin is the story of a killer and his mother. This book begins about three days shy of Kevin's eighteenth birthday. His mother Eva is telling the story through letters she is writing to her presumably estranged husband Franklin. The letters are written over a period of six months. The chronology of the letters goes from the beginning of Franklin and Eva's marriage to the present time.

The story, however, is a nonlinear one because even at the beginning, the reader knows the horrifying truth. Three years prior, three days before his sixteenth birthday, on a Thursday, Kevin went on a killing spree. At his school, he deliberately killed nine people. At present, he is serving his sentence in prison.

Through Eva's letters, slowly the history of this family emerges. Eva's reluctance about motherhood. Kevin's sociopath tendencies. Franklin's determination to make everything seem normal. The birth of Franklin and Eva's second child Celia. Numerous instances of Kevin's increasingly deteriorating behavior. An inkling that more might have happened than we know at the beginning. Regrets and guilt of a parent and her inability to change what happened.

How do I even describe this book? This is one of the most harrowing, horrific stories I have ever read. Not horrific in a zombie apocalypse kind of way. But horrific in its bone chilling, gut-wrenching reality.

Yet, I could not put this book down. And when I did, I could not stop thinking about it. Now that I am done, I am relieved. I knew what was coming, and yet it made it no easier to actually read about it. My plan is to walk away and read something happy and shed the dark and immensely sad feelings of this one. Any book that makes me think and feel the way this one did is definitely worth reading.

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