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We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel…
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We Need to Talk About Kevin (original 2003; edition 2005)

by Lionel Shriver

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,094283880 (4.1)1 / 536
Member:dylanwolf
Title:We Need to Talk About Kevin
Authors:Lionel Shriver
Info:Serpent's Tail (2005), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 436 pages
Collections:NAR - SMI
Rating:
Tags:USA, read

Work details

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (2003)

21st century (24) America (26) American (58) American literature (25) book club (30) contemporary (31) contemporary fiction (43) crime (32) ebook (20) epistolary (29) family (84) fiction (613) letters (21) mass murder (25) motherhood (88) murder (89) New York (23) novel (76) orange (24) Orange Prize (77) own (27) parenting (45) psychology (24) read (76) school shooting (60) school shootings (45) to-read (138) unread (33) USA (36) violence (34)
  1. 91
    Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (bnbookgirl, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Both of these novels are about school shootings and the alienated teenage boys responsible for them. 'We need to talk about Kevin' depicts the complex relationships within the shooter's family, whereas 'Nineteen minutes' focuses on the larger community affected by the event.… (more)
  2. 81
    Columbine by Dave Cullen (GCPLreader)
  3. 40
    The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing (christiguc, humppabeibi)
    christiguc: Both are books that explore the nature vs. nurture question in disturbing situations.
  4. 30
    Before and After by Rosellen Brown (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Both of these novels tell haunting, harrowing stories about the family relationships of teenage boys who commit unthinkable crimes: in 'We need to talk about Kevin' a school shooting, and in 'Before and after' a teenager's murder of his girlfriend.… (more)
  5. 30
    Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland (verenka)
    verenka: Both books deal with the aftermath of school shootings but from different perspectives.
  6. 30
    The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (freddlerabbit)
  7. 42
    Defending Jacob by William Landay (arielfl, Booksloth)
    arielfl: Both books are about bad seed boys who murder and who have mothers who have an inkling about their true nature and with fathers who deny, deny, deny.
  8. 10
    The Point of Rescue / The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah (JeaniusOak)
    JeaniusOak: Both novels explore difficult themes surrounding Motherhood.
  9. 00
    Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist (julienne_preacher)
  10. 22
    The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (RidgewayGirl)
  11. 00
    Boy A by Jonathan Trigell (FemmeNoiresque)
  12. 12
    The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan (Monika_L)
  13. 03
    Empire Falls by Richard Russo (mcenroeucsb)
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English (269)  French (3)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (282)
Showing 1-5 of 269 (next | show all)
Easily could have (should have?) been a short story or novella. About the only sympathy I had for anyone in the story was Celia. Definitely NOT a fan of the ending or the epistolary style. I probably would have enjoyed this more if I'd liked or sympathized with Eva. ( )
  lesmel | Jun 23, 2014 |
We Need to Talk About Kevin illuminates what life is like for the others; the outsiders. Those exiled from a normal life. Those who cannot go out for milk without nasty glares. Eva is Kevin's mother. Not mom, mum, or mummy. Mother. Simply his birth-giver, no strings attached. Kevin from the start, was a fox. Sly, cunning and determined to crush anything in his way, but always manipulating someone else to do his dirty work. Eva saw all of this where oafish Franklin did not. Kevin stripped Eva of everything, her husband, her happiness and eventually her job when, one Thursday, Kevin goes on a rampage killing several students and staff in a Columbine-esque shooting.

Lionel Shriver writes the story with such clarity it is as if she actually experienced the agony of the story line. Each emotion, character so clear and vivid. Shriver's understanding of the human spectrum of emotion enhances this already shocking topic. While grim and disquieting, the story is extremely well written and impossible to stop reading. The story is an accurate representation of the way our society feels about such gruesome acts as mass-shootings. She places the reader in an uncomfortable position they will not soon forget.
4.5 Stars.
  br14jaeb | Jun 6, 2014 |
Gem of a book YES!! A 5 star without a doubt YES!! But certainly not a re-readable book (for ME)!! Period!!

This was THE most Distressing, Disquieting yet Intriguing book I have ever read! And definitely was not an easy read nor it was easy to keep it aside once I started, it really perplexed me at times or rather many times. But not a re readable because I have read almost every page of this book enough times already to do it again!

The format used in this book was very unusual yet appropriate I can’t think of any other better way by which this story could have been told or would have made sense to the readers apart from knowing a mother’s POV. The author has done a superb job by holding the suspense till the end. At first it was really hard for me to get a grip; it was like a jigsaw puzzle it took me a while to arrange everything into place!
The perplexity increased every time as I went on reading I cannot say I didn’t connect with Eva I did... the thoughts in her mind was relevant to some extent yes.. however still there was something irrelevant about it too.

First of all Eva never wanted to have a child.. yes.. quite logical coz she was not prepared for it NOT YET but the fact that she ‘had’ after knowing she was not prepared was the most stupidest thing she ever did and the reasons for which she wanted was even more bizarre. Just because she was alone waiting for her husband made her want another person (not to forget) ‘a part of him’ to go through the ache what she was going through was totally absurd reason to have a child. The hatred which grew on her every moment once Kevin was born was again awful. She always.. I mean ALWAYS.. looked Kevin as a competition?? Or a villain who changed her entire life?? Sure becoming a mother does affect a women’s entire life but the part of accepting the changes takes a women into another level that is ‘the motherhood’ which Eva never tried to accept in Kevin’s case though she became more matured when she had her daughter but the perception about Kevin never changed for her. In the end it took a LOT to understand Kevin.

About Kevin ..Was he really different from other kids?? Or was he like this because of Eva?? I never came to know. Although Kevin knew he was not his mother’s favorite but he very well knew he was his dads’.. he could have given more importance to his dads’ feelings rather than punishing his mom for her hatredness towards him… these are only ‘some’ questions which came in to my mind while reading but when finally Eva asks Kevin her deepest question his answers shows that he was after all just a mentally disturbed, impulsive kid at the end.

According to me blame game doesn’t work here. If we really want to blame something then we should begin with what goes inside everyone’s mind/brain/thinking which is anything else but predictable and is indeed a darkest secret in itself irrespective of ones age, either it can bring the darkest demon in you or a beautiful angel!
( )
  Versha.Bharat | May 30, 2014 |
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver relates the story of a family whose boy, Kevin, goes on a killing rampage at his high school. This is a book that shook me to the core, I had to read it in short bursts as I needed to take breaks to get away from the darkness. Written beautifully but the subject matter is distressing, shocking and ugly. Told by the mother, Eva, the story of her family unfolds in epistolary form, through letters that Eva writes to her husband, Franklin.

Eva and Franklin are very different from one another but they are deeply in love and the decision to have a child is not one that was taken lightly. Eva never really wanted children but decided to go ahead with it as she knew how much her husband desired parenthood. From the moment she gives birth to Kevin, her life becomes more of a horror story. Unable to bond with or love her child, Eva immediately sees Kevin as an adversary. He is shown to be a sly monster, and as he grows he is only too willing to display his evil nature to his mother. His father on the other hand does not see this side of Kevin and feels that Eva is a disinterested, cold mother. As we work our way through the book the story builds in intensity as Kevin matures and that destructive day in April approaches.

I believe that ultimately We Need To Talk About Kevin raises far more questions than it actually answers. As I read about the imploding of this family I couldn’t help but ask myself whether Eva was a reliable narrator. Can someone be born inherently evil? Can a mother’s coldness build a monster? Do parents get the children they deserve? Was this the truth as Eva saw it or is this her own anguish and guilt that she is writing about. Eva puts herself on trial and the reader must form his own judgement. ( )
3 vote DeltaQueen50 | May 11, 2014 |
While a work of fiction, We Need to Talk about Kevin feels very realistic. It is written as a series of letters from Kevin’s mother to her husband, who seems to be gone. You quickly learn that Kevin has killed nine of his classmates in a mass act of school violence. His mother starts her letters talking about her uncertainty when they were deciding whether or not to have a child. After they had Kevin, she didn’t really feel connected to him. As he was growing up, there were personality and behavior that disturbed her, but that her husband refused to see. The letters are very angst ridden about her actions as a mother, as well as very upsetting because of the things Kevin does. ( )
  ktoonen | Apr 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 269 (next | show all)
A powerful, gripping and original meditation on evil
 
At a time when fiction by women has once again been criticised for its dull domesticity, here is a fierce challenge of a novel by a woman that forces the reader to confront assumptions about love and parenting, about how and why we apportion blame, about crime and punishment, forgiveness and redemption and, perhaps most significantly, about how we can manage when the answer to the question why? is either too complex for human comprehension, or simply non-existent.
 
The epistolary method Shriver uses, letters to Eva's absent husband, strains belief, yet ultimately that's not what trips us up. It's Eva's relentless negativity that becomes boring and repetitive in the first half of the book, the endless recounting of her loss of svelteness, her loss of freedom.
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Barbara O'Dair (Aug 12, 2004)
 
Maybe there are books to be written about teenage killers and about motherhood, but this discordant and misguided novel isn't one of them.
added by stephmo | editThe Guardian, Sarah A. Smith (Nov 15, 2003)
 
A little less, however, might have done a lot more for this book. A guilt-stricken Eva Khatchadourian digs into her own history, her son's and the nation's in her search for the responsible party, and her fierceness and honesty sustain the narrative; this is an impressive novel, once you get to the end.

 

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Lionel Shriverprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Trouw, MiekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A child needs your love most when he deserves it least.
--Erma Bombeck
Dedication
For Terri: One worst-case scenario we've both escaped.
First words
I'm unsure why one trifling incident this afternoon has moved me to write to you.
Quotations
You were ambitious - for your life, what it was like when you woke up in the morning, and not for some attainment.  Like most people who did not answer a particular calling from an early age, you placed work beside yourself; any occupation would fill up your day but not your heart.  I liked that about you.  I liked it enormously.
Only a country that feels invulnerable can afford political turmoil as entertainment.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Poikani Kevin koostuu Evan kirjeistä miehelleen Franklinille. Eva Khatchadourianilla oli loistelias ura ja onnellinen avioliitto, ennen kuin hän sai lapsen. Nyt heidän poikansa Kevin on vankilassa järkyttävän rikoksen takia, ja Eva käy kirjeissään läpi tragediaa edeltänyttä aikaa. Miksi Kevin päätyi hirmutekoon? Oliko kaikki vanhempien syytä? Mitä jos Eva olisi rakastanut Keviniä enemmän? Jos Frank ei olisi aina yrittänyt nähdä asioiden valoista puolta? Jos Eva olisi halunnut lasta enemmän? Vai olisiko näistä mikään muuttanut mitään? Shriver käsittelee tarkkanäköisesti mustimpiakin tunteita ja ajassa liikkuvia ilmiöitä. Romaani käsittelee suuria kysymyksiä "arkisesti", kiinnittyy omaan aikaamme ja erittelee sen vastenmielisimpiä piirteitä tinkimättömästi. Se kysyy oikeita kysymyksiä, mutta ei anna valmiita vastauksia. Poikani Kevin on romaani syyllisyydestä, äidinrakkaudesta ja sen puuttumisesta, itsekkyydestä ja selittämättömästä pahuudesta, jota on mahdoton selittää tyhjäksi millään psykologian teorioilla. Järkyttävä, yllätyksellinen ja ajatuksia herättävä romaani voitti vuoden 2005 Orange-palkinnon.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006112429X, Paperback)

The gripping international bestseller about motherhood gone awry

Eva 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:17 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Eva Khatchadourian writes to her estranged husband Frank, trying to solve what went wrong in raising their son Kevin after he kills seven classmates and a teacher in his high school in upstate New York.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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Editions: 1921145080, 192175849X

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