We need to talk about Kevin – not recommended if you are thinking of having children!

Most people have heard of this book and I was always put off by a controversial book and didn’t think I would find the story of an American boy killing his classmates much fun.  However once you get through the first few bleak chapters you start to get sucked into the story and it becomes a real page turner.  It is one of the most shocking books I have read in years, when I finished the last page I literally sat there with my mouth open for ages.

We know from the start about Kevin´s evil act (and the back of the books tell you) but there are lots of twists and turns along the way.   As soon as Kevin is born to his middle-class parents he is seen to be disconnected (admittedly from his mother´s perspective)  and he really does seem like an evil boy, just as you think it can’t get worse, then it does.  The novel revolves around nature or nurture – is Kevin completely maladjusted because of his parents, in particular his mother or is it just the way he was born.  As someone who doesn’t have children I found it terrifying, Shriver shows candidly a woman´s problem with adjusting to parenthood and challenges the idea of the maternal instinct and  an all-encompassing love of your child.  I kept seeing myself in Eva the mother so now can´t have a baby or it will be like Kevin.

Without wanting to give things away, when Celia comes along it does help to redeem Eva as being at fault, but I felt the incident with the bleach was a step too far, surely that would have been the time that any mother would have stepped in and done something?  The twist at the end does depend on Shriver deliberately misleading the reader so in some ways it is a weakness of the book but overall it seems to work.  I thought this was one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time and recommend it – it definitely makes you think.

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One response to “We need to talk about Kevin – not recommended if you are thinking of having children!

  1. Just seen this link about the new film with Tilda Swinton. Enjoyed the comment on it about the fact that it has probably done more than anything else to lower birth rates.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/may/12/cannes-we-need-talk-about-kevin-review

    Also a book club with Lionel Shriver.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/audio/2008/may/16/guardian.book.club?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

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