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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 2006)

by Lionel Shriver

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,155286867 (4.1)1 / 544
Member:DetailMuse
Title:We Need to Talk About Kevin
Authors:Lionel Shriver
Info:Harper Perennial (2006), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Read in 2011, Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:Fiction, Epistolary, Motherhood, Mothers and Sons, Family, Parenting, Murder, School Shooting, LT Inspired, @S, a2010, BOYS11, 2011

Work details

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

  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. 50
    The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing (christiguc, humppabeibi)
    christiguc: Both are books that explore the nature vs. nurture question in disturbing situations.
  4. 40
    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. 00
    The Dinner by Herman Koch (INTPLibrarian)
    INTPLibrarian: Disturbed child and parents dealing with it. Both with twists / unexpected parts.
  11. 22
    The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (RidgewayGirl)
  12. 00
    Boy A by Jonathan Trigell (FemmeNoiresque)
  13. 12
    The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan (Monika_L)
  14. 03
    Empire Falls by Richard Russo (mcenroeucsb)
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English (271)  French (4)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (285)
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
My least favorite character in everything that I have read, yet pitiful at the same time. Eva Khatchadourian is the arrogrant, self-absorbed, cold mother to Kevin who as a teenager commits mass murder at his high school with a bow and arrow. Told in a series of letters to her husband, she tries to make sense of her own life and experiences of being a mother. She thinks herself quite intelligent and worldly having traveled all over the world; yet, she is incredibly stupid.

The writing at times is gripping and at times way too wordy. There are sentences that just make no sense; thus at times I skimmed. I did see the movie before reading this so I was able to visualize scenes. Most of the story was believable until it got to Kevin's experiences in high school particularly the instance where he blames a teacher of sexual harassment. The ending is an effective ending, but it takes way too long to get there. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 20, 2014 |
Wow! This book grabs you from the very beginning. Where do we go wong as parents in not seeing that our child is damaged. Devastating book. ( )
1 vote frenchmama | Jul 23, 2014 |
This book was intriguing, yet very, very disturbing for a number of reasons. Eva, mother to the murdering teenage boy, is brutally honest about her misconceptions of motherhood, her feelings toward her shameless, saucy little boy, and her apparent guilt regarding his murderous rampage. Clearly, motherhood was not something that came easily to Eva; instead her maternal instincts were cold and contrived. Does that make her responsible for what her son ultimately became? Absolutely not. Although Eva is far from mother of the year, I truly believe that Kevin had something inherently wrong with him. Sure Eva wasn't always warm and fuzzy, but there is no denying that Kevin's actions (from a frighteningly early age) were premeditated, malicious, and calculating. This could not be the sole cause of the environment in which he grew up. Even so, I'd place more of the blame for Kevin's actions and behaviors on his father, Franklin. Although Eva was chilly, Franklin tried too hard to be Kevin's friend and defended him time and again when Kevin was questioned about, well, you name it--tormenting his kindergarten classmates, causing a neighbor's bicycle accident, throwing bricks from a bridge onto a highway, Franklin always saw good in Kevin; at least Eva saw her son for the monster he truly was. With that said, this is definitely a book I would recommend reading. Although I can't say I loved any of the characters (except, perhaps, poor little Celia), they were well developed and remained true throughout the novel. The pacing of the novel was good, allowing the reader to gain just the right amount of insight into Kevin and his family at the appropriate time in the book. What I liked best was that the author led up to a much needed climax with an excruciating ending that I didn't see coming. ( )
  Hanneri | Jul 22, 2014 |
4.25 stars

Kevin shot eight kids and one teacher at his high school, shortly before Columbine. This story is told after the fact, by his mom, Eva, in letters written to Kevin's dad, Franklin. Eva initially didn't even want kids, and Kevin was a little odd. The letters back up to before Kevin was born and work their way up to the shooting and beyond, with some “current” storyline as to what's happening with Eva now, thrown in from time to time.

It did start off a little slowly for me, but it picked up after Kevin was born, and really picked up in the last quarter of the book or so. I hated Franklin almost as much as I hated Kevin. There was a few times where I temporarily lost track of what time frame I was reading about, but that didn't happen often. Now I want to move up my tbr a nonfiction book about psychopaths that I've been planning to read for a while. ( )
1 vote LibraryCin | Jul 8, 2014 |
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. ( )
1 vote lesmel | Jun 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 271 (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.

 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
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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