Friday, December 9, 2011

Discussion - Join In (We Need to Talk about Kevin)


If you are considering reading this book YOU SHOULD NOT read this discussion!!

Please link your review here. (Doesn't matter when you reviewed it)

Questions to assist the discussion, pick and choose what you want to answer or just discuss.  Thanks for participating.

-  In ONE word describe this book.......

-  What is your favourite memorable scene?

-  Who do you blame for Kevin's childhood actions and becoming a murderer?  Do you think Eva should have been held responsible?

- Are you a mother?  How do you think the story affected you as a mom or not?

-  How would you describe Eva and Franklin's parenting style?

-  What expectations did Eva have of motherhood and how did she meet the reality of it?

-  What was your reaction to Kevin using a crowbar instead of a gun?

-  What do you think Kevin's motive was?

-  What do you think about the title?

Publisher Questions

-  The irony of Eva having read Robin Hood to an ailing, needy Kevin at a time of almost shocking mother-son bonding is played out in the way Kevin massacred his fellow students and the teacher who took an interest in him. Since it is Eva who connects Kevin's fevered state with her recollection of his unusual interest in anything whatsoever, is it possible that Kevin's methods were meant to figuratively slay his mother?

-  Do you think Franklin was in denial or did he realise some of the warning signs?  Did you sympathize with them as parents?  Can you have sympathy for a  mother and father who saw all the warning signs but failed to stop the violence?

-  Given that the story is told from Eva's perspective only, can she be trusted as reliable? Do you think she exaggerated to make herself look good/better? How do you think Franklin's version of events would have differed? Might Eva choose to portray Kevin in childhood as more wicked than he really was, if only to make her seem less culpable for his crimes as a teenager?

-  While you were reading the novel, did you ever wonder what Franklin was doing and why he never seemed to write back to Eva?  Did you figure out he was dead before it was revealed?

-  Do you think that Kevin was guilty of damaging his little sister's eye? If so, what evidence do you find for this assumption, and would it stand up in court?

-  At the conclusion of the novel, did you find Eva sympathetic in a way you may not have initially? Do you think Eva has sympathy and forgiveness for herself? Is she able to accept Kevin, and to see his personality as, however uncomfortably, akin to her own?

Thank you for participating.  I decided to respond in the comments along with you instead of planning ahead so I will come back and fourth through out the day and weekend. 


  1. I had to come back for the discussion, this book is still so powerful to me, I'd love to hear other's thoughts.
    when was it published? I had the cover with the torn out sheet of notebook paper, and
    Your copy sounds like it was changed a bit, the title scrawled out in red Sharpie. In that one, Kevin used a cross bow.

    When the book started off I wondered why we were just reading her notes to Franklin, I wondered what she had done that caused him to ignore her so. Then after about 150 pages, I figured he had left her, the tragedy had torn them apart because he was so steadfastly loyal to the idea of his son and refused to see the actuality. I thought he saw her as the monster I found her to be. In no way shape or form was I expecting to find out the ending. When I read the final letter detailing what happened, I cried so hard that it hurt. I don't know if that's strange because it is only a book but seriously - gut-wrenching sobs. I'm tearing up a little bit just thinking of it. So the one word I'd have to use would be resonant. Because this book will not leave you.

    If anything, I feel like Eva is more than reliable - she paints herself as hard, cold and unfeeling from the start with her blatant honesty about her disaffectation from Kevin from his birth on. It wasn't until about midway through that it seemed to me that Eva might actually be a good person, and more importantly a good parent. When her daughter was born, the rush of love was there, the wary suspicion she had for Kevin seemed more like prescience and intuition than bad mothering (which I admit I initially found her to be, and in that, at least partially culpable for Kevin's actions.)
    Kevin was a monster. The fact that his only regret was the Columbine outshined him because they "got one more", and his jealousy and outrage that his use of a crossbow (or crowbar?) showed much more planning and precision is downright chilling. The painting Shriver created of him terrified me and has put in the back of my mind, what if I have a Kevin, what will I do.

  2. Wow, there are so many words that can be used to describe this book, but intense is the first that comes to mind. It's been a couple of years since I read it so some of the details are a little foggy, but I remember thinking that Kevin was terrifying. Who is to blame? It's hard to say. The book really gets you thinking about the whole nature vs. nurture thing. I cried, too, toward the end of the book. I remember when I figured out why she was writing the letters and not getting a's like my blood chilled.

  3. Thanks for coming over Ashley and Anna

    This book was Intense that is the only word I continue to come up with and Kevin is unforgettable.

    I emailed Jessica (she may come over later to post) and said 'do we hear from Franklin' I needed to hear his side. I considered giving up Jessica was great about not giving away anything just stick to it. I then thought they separated but was hopeful on a reunion. When she went home I had just about stopped breathing with anticipation of the PLEASE NO, DON'T TELL ME. OMG seriously, crying here for sure, shocking to me. If Eva killed herself there on the spot I wouldn't have been surprised. When Kevin said mom tell (sister) bye I said 'no way, he doesn't kill her, no, can't be'.

    The 2 scenes/incidents that I won't forget are the mom throwing him across the room. I actually was on her side then felt bad cause he broke his arm. How can a child know how to provoke you at all levels, just insanity.

    The 2nd is the daughter losing her eye. No one will convince me he didn't talk her into it, for goodness sakes, he is the devil.

    Everything he did I think was to shock or get a reaction from him mom, right down to using the crowbar like Robin hood.

    I still haven't came to a conclusion, did he love his mom, hate her or was mesmorized or what, I just don't get it.

  4. Ashley, it was published April 2003. Did he not use a crowbar in the original version? What did he use?

    I agree this will stay with me for a long time.

    I think Eva was reliable also, shocking for sure. I do like that I didn't consider the author to give details just for shock value.

  5. Anna blood chilling for sure. I thought this suspenseful part was executed to perfection.

  6. Hi, I cant post up my thoughts as blogger has decided to not play ball!

    But I did not see the ending coming AT ALL. Even when she got home and Franklin was nowhere to be seen I still didnt guess. Now looking back it seems obvious, esp when Kevin asked Eva if she wanted to say goodbye again to her daughter on that day.

    I found the ending interesting which is what grapped me more I think, why Eva felt she had to in some way forgive Kevin. That fact that we will get out means that there has to be a belief in his redemption otherwise what would be the alternative?

    Anyway I will post my thoughts when blogger lets me.

  7. Sorry the last sentence sould read 'the fact that one day Kevin will get out'


  8. Jessica, you know what it was about the ending, you just couldn't bring yourself to believe it was possible.

    Great review, don't forget to link up.

  9. In one word: Emotional. The entire book is Eva soul searching and questioning her existence and purpose as a mother.

    Kevin's choice of weapon for me was perfectly Oedipal. The whole book he strived for Eva's attention in a way that became more and more sexually charged as he grew up (I mean a 6yo in diapers and masturbating with open doors, yikes). Killing his father with the arrows, one through the dick none the less, was the very definition of wanting to kill your father and eff your mother.

    I also wonder if Eva did have post-partum depression (even though she denied it). I wonder if that prevented her from connecting with Kevin. On one hand, it makes perfect sense in terms of her reactions to Kevin--Kevin became a scarey foreign entity. But on the other hand, Franklin completely high-jacked her pregnancy and prevented her from even developing a fetal bond with the baby.

    As, regarding Eva as a narrator. I don't think she was unreliable. She was writing about her experience and, yes, everything was pushed through a filter of her perception, but she was completely true and honest to herself and her experience. I think her perceptions of Kevin are definitely tainted, but we are looking into the very center of her storm.

  10. Also, a last thought...I don't think that Kevin was inherently evil. I think his actions as an infant were relatively normal and indicative of a child screaming for attention. I think a lot of those actions were clouded by Eva's personal perceptions, I think she really struggled with her identity as a mother. I think a middle ground lies between Franklin's and Eva's perceptions of Kevin.

    I think also think as he aged Kevin's acting out became more pathological as Eva did things like throw him across the room. These negative interactions were the only attention she ever really showed him, so I think a lot of his negative actions were a cry for attention. He even competed for her attention by throwing her anti-Americana observations back in her face. And a lot of his interactions were driven by jealousy, of his father, of his sister, of Eva's job.

    But I do also think he had a propensity for violence and evil thought which was cultivated by the Eva's standoffish-ness mothering and Franklin's overbearing perfect father act. Personally, I think all people are a combination of the person they were born to be and the person they become through their interactions with adults and children as they grow up. So I don't think Kevin is any more evil than Eva. He just had fewer tools to cope with his evilness than the average person and acted out in an evil way.

  11. Emotional is a great word.

    I totally agree, everything he did was to get his mom's attention and he chose the evil side because that is when she reacted, I was surprised she didn't full realise this. And Frankins reaction was the weirdest.

    I agree she had post natal depression. This family had money but didn't get help, I couldn't understand why, they were proud in my mind.

    Thank you for participating, I appreciate it.

  12. Pride and ego, for sure! Good call. I think those motivated the parents a lot, and perhaps Kevin too, in a way. Though his seemed to be more about destroying their ego.

  13. Sorry for delayed response: In my copy, he used a crossbow.


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