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We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel (P.S.)…
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We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel (P.S.) (original 2003; edition 2006)

by Lionel Shriver

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,743322739 (4.09)1 / 620
Member:912greens
Title:We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Lionel Shriver
Info:Harper Perennial (2006), Edition: Movie Tie-In, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, "mental instability", killers, murder, family, mothers, prison, schools, archery

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. 60
    The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing (christiguc, humppabeibi)
    christiguc: Both are books that explore the nature vs. nurture question in disturbing situations.
  4. 50
    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. 62
    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.
  6. 30
    Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland (verenka)
    verenka: Both books deal with the aftermath of school shootings but from different perspectives.
  7. 30
    The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (freddlerabbit)
  8. 10
    The Dinner by Herman Koch (INTPLibrarian)
    INTPLibrarian: Disturbed child and parents dealing with it. Both with twists / unexpected parts.
  9. 10
    The Point of Rescue / The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah (JeaniusOak)
    JeaniusOak: Both novels explore difficult themes surrounding Motherhood.
  10. 00
    Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist (julienne_preacher)
  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 (307)  French (3)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  English (322)
Showing 1-5 of 307 (next | show all)
Amazing. One of the most devastatingly smart books that I have ever read. ( )
  Gordon.Edgar | Nov 29, 2016 |
"It's always the mother's fault, ain't it?"
By sally tarbox on 13 November 2016
Format: Paperback
A fantastic, well-written, literary read; not for anyone seeking a light 'horror' read.
Over a series of letters to her absent husband, Franklin, Eva goes back over her life - from their blissful days together as a a successful childless couple to the eventual (and hesitant on her part) decision to have a child. Kevin - who is revealed from the start as an eventual serial killer - turns out to be a monstrous child. Certainly Eva is rather lacking in maternal warmth, her opinions on him even as an infant attributing thoughts that surely don't exist in one so young:
"To me he was never 'the baby'. He was a singular, unusually cunning individual who had arrived to stay with us and just happened to be very small. For you he was 'our son' - or ,once you started to give up on me, 'my son'. "
But then Eva is writing in hindsight, many years down the line, when she sees what he is capable of. And while her post natal depression and one act of violence may not have helped, in many ways she seems an OK parent. And surely her husband's over-the-top attention to the boy's welfare, his eternal refusals to accept anything bad attributed to Kevin, surely made up for lack of maternal qualities.

Although we may question Eva's every thought on her son, most incidents she reports seem pretty black and white. The stream of nannies who quit almost immediately, his strange uninterested demeanour as he grew older. The later acts of violence that - while not provable - seem to only be attributable to their highly intelligent son... And of course the horrific end...

But there are confusing episodes too. The way Kevin turns to his mother when he's ill; some of the things he says, implying he wants her admiration and praise...

You might think that to write a book where the reader knows the outcome at the start would be hard to pull off. When the letters are all working towards that final awful incident, Thursday, how can the author sustain the excitement. But I promise she absolutely keeps you reading, following the workings of her mind, her observations on life in the US, and Kevin's increasingly awful behaviour - and her failing relationship with her husband, as he seems unable to admit to any wrongdoing in the child...

A book that you want to re-read to study the participants again, to try to decipher whether Eva has exaggerated Kevin's awfulness, whether he could have been turned around if she'd not seen him as a devil child from birth.

Absolutely fantastic book that will remain with you. ( )
  starbox | Nov 13, 2016 |
I must admit, the author's infatuation with the thesaurus initially turned me off of this book. As I pressed on and as it became a page-turner, I realized that it served a purpose. The diction of the book really mad eyou feel as if you were peering into the mother's very soul. I really liked this book. It had me wanting to pick it up as often as I could and it was truely haunting. I did not like that the author rambled quite a bit and yes, the bigger words made it hard not to skim in the first half. ( )
  Kimberly_Mejia | Nov 3, 2016 |
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver; (5*)

We Need to Talk About Kevin was a five star read for me. I think it was written brilliantly. I've had many a movie have me on the edge of my seat but this is the first book I can recall putting me literally on the edge of my seat and holding my breath even though I had figured it out a few pages in, with the exception of the daughter.
I've not been able to write a review on it yet, but will throw one up soon.

BRILLIANT, JUST BRILLIANT!~! ( )
1 vote rainpebble | Oct 15, 2016 |
This book broke my heart. I was unable to read anything else for days afterwards... That is about all I can say about it right now. The writing was so raw that it took me almost three months to get through it. Every time I picked it back up I would forget that these were not actual letters from a real person. The realism was that convincing. As I said... It left me feeling flayed, but not in a terrible way. I'm not sure that a book has ever affected me that way before... I almost hope one never will again. ( )
  GoldenDarter | Sep 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 307 (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 editionscalculated
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.
Every now again, one of those books comes along that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end when you read it. (Introduction)
I can roughly divide my novels into two stacks. (Afterword)
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.
You never wanted to have me, did you?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him. 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 absent husband, Franklyn. 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.
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:48 -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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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921145080, 192175849X

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