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Book DetailsISBN: 9781921145087
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Book Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - Reviewed by CloggieA (24 Feb 2012)
We Need to Talk About Kevin is the 8th novel by Lionel Shriver. The format is a series of letters written by Eva Khatchadourian to her absent husband, Franklin, which are a sort of analytical reminiscence about their lives before the arrival of their son, Kevin, their reasons for having a baby, the prelude and then the immediate and long term aftermath of Kevin’s actions on that fateful Thursday two years previous. The Thursday consistently referred to in italics is when Kevin murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker and a popular English teacher. Eva examines the events of their lives trying to ascertain if and how she may have been at fault for Kevin’s actions, and what his reasons for them may have been. It is a very one-sided analysis that, at some points, will have the reader sympathising with Eva, whilst at other times she comes across as a selfish, self-centred, often thoughtless, opinionated snob. There is some black humour, but on the whole, the subject matter precludes this. It is certainly not an easy read, both for the subject matter and the writing style, which starts with long convoluted sentences, but the final chapters make it well worth persevering with. Shriver address many issues: the nature or nurture debate; the hysteria caused by school shootings; why people decide to have children; what constitutes negligent parenting; is there anything you cannot forgive your children for. The story is skilfully crafted and I did not see the twist at the end coming. Shriver effectively conveys the experience of the forgotten victims of these mass murders: the family of the murderer. The sense of tragedy is strongly communicated. This novel left me with an overwhelming feeling of sadness.
Book Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - Reviewed by noverall (29 Jun 2011)
This powerful book is deserving of the accolades -and given it has just been made into a film starring Tilda Swinton as the mother, it is well worth getting hold of a copy to read before seeing the movie.
Author Lionel Shriver has crafted a work that is exceptionally confronting and yet ultimately compelling. It pulls back the curtain on the myths of parenthood in a bluntly honest way but also delivers insights that are difficult to ignore or deny.
Her characters are not easy to like, the story is most unpalatable, and yet, the revelations on human nature, the nature versus nurture debate and the question of whether people really can be 'born bad', are brilliantly and incisively expressed in a story that reverberates forcefully in the times in which we live.
Lionel Shriver is the author of eleven novels, including The Post-Birthday World and Big Brother. Her journalism is widely published in the Guardian, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, among other publications. She lives in London and Brooklyn, New York.
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