Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review - We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Book Summary from Amazon

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.

My Review - 4 Great to the last Drop

This is the hardest book I have ever read.  Brutal, intense, shocking, I feel like the blood has slowly been taken out of my body and I was left to die in my thoughts. 

The intro quote is:  A child needs your love most when he deserves it least.  - Erma Bombeck

I don't know how Kevin's parents loved him, what a parental struggle to deal with Kevin. 

About 30% in I started to have the need to hear from Franklin, the father.  I was enjoying Eva's letters but wanted more.  Eva wrote Franklin often within a 2 year time gap, sometimes daily, weekly or monthly, this is how the story was unfolded.  So many things I couldn't believe she never told Franklin, how did they live together and at times be happy without real communication and harmony.

Eva's letters takes you on a mysterious journey, makes you think, takes you down the judgement alley, makes you want to scream, criticize, say what if, why don't they, why didn't they.  What really drew me in by half way was that Kevin had so many characteristics of a serial killer to be and Eva wasn't fearful enough to get him help.  Ironically Franklin thought Eva should go to a shrink, unbelievable.  To be able to see the signs and follow the ultimate destruction was phenomenal, this is what glued me to the pages.  I don't know how Eva didn't disown Kevin but Franklin was not about to give up on their son and put a label on him, he just loved and supported him to a fault.  I struggled with Eva and Kevin competing with each other, very complicated mother and son relationship. 

The main fault I have with this novel is the excessive use of unknown words, I didn't understand why this was necessary but it was from beginning to end, so many new words to learn I couldn't enjoy learning one or two.

What I loved about the book is even though you know something is going to happen, you know the end result, there suspenseful elements, you may figure them out, but the reality still hits you like a ton of bricks.  This was executed to perfection.

This is a very hard book to get through but it just gets better.  I started to think this was a bad choice initially but I am so glad I stuck to it, what an unbelievable, amazing, mysterious, thought provoking book.

There will be a discussion here at Tea Time with Marce tomorrow.  Come over, join in, link your review and lets discuss, vent, debate and have it out.  I highly recommend you only read the discussion posts if you have read the book or have no intentions to read it, it will be full of SPOILERS.


  1. I know this is one book I won't be reading. I really don't read suspense/thriller books, they are way out of my comfort zone. However, I am glad you enjoyed the book.

  2. I completely agree with you! I really wanted to hear from Franklin! I will definitely be joining in tomorrow!
    Juli @ Universe in Words

  3. This one was so compelling--and shocking. I definitely need to read more from Shriver!

  4. "This is the hardest book I have ever read. Brutal, intense, shocking, I feel like the blood has slowly been taken out of my body and I was left to die in my thoughts."

    Your review is absolutely perfect, I read this book two or three years ago, and sometimes I still think about it and parts of it will hit me like a punch to the stomach. Not just the ending either, but especially the part about the puppies. I read this on the metro to and from work and I teared up, gasped loudly in outrage, shock or sadness more than once or twice.

    Will you be watching the movie? I don't think I can handle it. Tilda Swinton makes me uncomfortable on a normal day, but her casting in this movie is dead on. I had a really hard time liking, sympathizing or understanding Eva until the end. Tilda as her , along with the content matter make this something I'm almost scared to try.

    I apologize for the lengthiness, should have saved all this for the discussion but I will miss the discussion.

  5. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. It sounded like it would be a very intense read!

  6. This was a very intense book. I couldn't get used to Eva's voice and almost abandoned the book, but I stuck with it for 100 pages and then it got much better. It's so disturbing and thought provoking, one of those books that hits you in the gut. Looking forward to the discussion.

  7. I really want to read this book and see the movie but know I couldn't handle it right now.

  8. I've been on the fence about this book.

  9. Gigi - I think this one may be far to much even for the thrill seekers, it is INTENSE....

    Juli - I almost stopped reading because I was getting inpatient waiting for Franklin. Look forward to the discussion.

    Lola - I need to look into more from Shriver also, did you know it is a female author that changed her name?

    Ashley - Thanks for participating today, happy for you to come back when you can. Many parts will stay with me for a long time, i'm just wow'd.

    Jennifer - Very intense indeed

    Anna - If I didn't announce having a discussion I have to say I may have gave up also. I 'needed' to hear from Franklin.

    Kathy - I think you will love all the new words.

    Nise - It is a very hard book to recommend, I say either go for it and know it is a difficult read that you won't forget or enjoy the reviews knowing you won't read it.

  10. I'm with Kathy on this one - I would really like to read it but with a son who turns 16 in 11 days this book sounds like it would hit too close to home. Loved your review!

  11. I think I read the first couple of pages when I borrowed it a while back, but it was kinda slow but more importantly I wasn't in the mood to read it. I think I'd wait for the movie and see how I like that, before I decide whether to read the book. I know the books are usually better than the movies, but in some case I just want to take the easy way out as I just want to know the plot lol.

  12. I'm not a big fan of Shriver's other novels, I've tried The Post-Birthday World, Double Fault and A Perfectly Good Family - all of which have fantastic blurbs and intqiguing covers and the only thing that sticks out is exactly what you said - too many of the new words. It almost felt like the know-it-all talking to you in as condescending a way as possible at certain points. The plot didn't negate the annoyance in any of the other books for me sadly.

  13. This sounds like an intense read. I am very curious about it but at the same time I am not sure it is a story I could handle. It may be one for the some day list.

  14. This does sound like an intense read. I wonder if I could handle this due to the
    subject matter.

  15. Glad you liked this book despite that heavy wordsmithing. I am looking forward to reading this one. I'm not a fan of books with school shootings - my school has had enough of that, but everything else about this book sounds great!

  16. Awesome review, Marce! Love the emotion you shared. I read this a few years ago and remember it was intense!

  17. I agree with your review.. I too found it intense but a worthy read... most of my book club did not agree with me and many did not finish it finding it too hard. I found it to feel real.

  18. This sounds like an insanely intense book. I'm intrigued, but maybe will read it when life is less stressful :-)

  19. Your first sentence describing this book pretty much got me hooked. I am going to read it asap. It looks like a one-of-a-kind read.

  20. The book was very difficult to wade through at first (too many details/unfamiliar and uncommon vocabulary) so I found myself skipping ahead quickly to Eva's final letters to her beloved husband. WOW! I did not predict that outcome. I am now compelled to back up and read it again more thoroughly.


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