September 18, 2006

Book Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Eva didn’t want to have children or at least it was the one thing she was most afraid of. From practically the moment she became pregnant with Kevin everything was turned upside down.
I’ve heard this novel described as “parenting gone wrong” and I think that is by far the easiest way to explain this story. A mother gives birth to a child she has no maternal instincts towards and grows to intensely dislike.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is told through letters Eva is writing to her estranged husband as she tells the truth of what happened and how she felt about it. A large part of the book centers around how she felt she was a bad mother and that she is the one to blame.

The reason she decidedly begins unraveling this story is because one day her not quite 16 year old son decided to murder a bunch of students at school, a teacher and a cafeteria worker as well. Newspapers, television and other parents all seemed to question her parenting skills and whether she was behind what went so very wrong with her son.

Reading Kevin was exhilarating and terrifying at times as well. I found myself in awe of the honesty and brutal reality Eva diverged to the readers. Just when you think you are prepared for where the story is taking you it switches gears and you need to hold on for that sharp turn.

Personally, I found the husband, Franklin, the most infuriating character. Maybe it’s wrong, or maybe I just took sides, but I felt his rose colored glasses towards his son was what was the constant problem. If the father stepped back and was willing to see what was happening with his son, instead of blaming everyone else, just maybe the tides could have changed.

In the end I was left wondering if Kevin was really that disturbed or if that was just how she envisioned him in her mind? Could he sense how much she didn’t want him and was it all just a need for the love that was unavailable? Was there anything anyone could have done to change the outcome?

This book is about a lot and still leaves a lot of questions; questions most of us may be afraid to answer.

Originally posted on The Road Less Unraveled.

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s said...

I, too, just finished reading this book. I found it extremely powerful, sad, and infuriating. The curveball Shriver throws in at the very end was something for which I was not prepared. Kevin is every parent's worst nightmare. I agree that Franklin, the father, was about as clueless a "Duh" as any we could run across in the real world: focused on the "Kodak Moments" alone to the exclusion of everything else. I think this book should be on every prospective parent's reading list.

Robin said...

S - Yes, it's a truly terrifying book for anyone wanting to have children and the twist at the end was a complete shock. I think Eva was a childfree woman at heart that didn't listen to her gut. She loved her life and her husband...she didn't want to have children and ruin that. She did have children and for her it pretty much destroyed her life as she knew it.

Teri said...

Robin - This is an excellent book review. Thank you for sharing it with PW&F!

Carlos said...
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