Article in brief: A book review on “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver.
“I don’t care about anything. And there’s a freedom in apathy, a wild, dizzying liberation on which you can almost get drunk. You can do anything. Ask Kevin.” -Lionel Shriver
Eva (the main character) is a traveling writer who writes to her estranged husband letters about their son Kevin. Throughout most of the novel, Eva expressed her fear of her son because he had shown some tendencies that came off as criminal, psychotic, sadistic and rather creepy. However, Franklin, her husband, did not see that and blamed her for being cold and unemotional towards their son. There were times when she had admitted her inability to love her son and bond with him.
The letters she wrote to her husband was her way of coming to terms with her son’s decision to commit a massacre (surprise surprise!) in school, who was smart enough to use a crossbow instead of the conventional guns and rifles. Yes, he was rather talented with the bow and that’s probably why it was much easier for him to commit his crime using a crossbow.
Honestly, I wasn’t able to sympathize with Eva. She came off as cold-hearted and had seemed to shun her son literally since his first hour on earth as a living human being. In her opinion, his refusal to breastfeed was done on purpose. Talk about twisted! She even believed that his never-ending shrieks weren’t genuine and were a form of torture. I think the book does question the theory of whether some people are born with criminal tendencies or not. At least Kevin seemed to be born with them, according to his mother.
I found We Need to Talk about Kevin a rather difficult read. The first 300 pages of the book were really torturous and painful to go through. There were times when I considered going on Wikipedia and reading the plot to get it over with, but somehow I managed. However, the ending was all worth it. The book is a psychological thriller and it served the genre well.
Upon completing the book, my initial rating was 2 out of 5. However, on a second thought I realized the emotional turmoil I went through was intentional. For the first hour post-reading the book, I felt broken and I almost vowed not to read another book in my entire life (well done Lionel Shriver, well done!). I then realized this was done on purpose and I now see how brilliant that was.
The book was dark to the point where there was no happy ending, and with this novel it made a lot of sense. However, Eva’s visits to Kevin while in prison are proof that mothers do not give up on their sons no matter what. I would recommend this book to those who have enough patience to tolerate the torture. I guarantee you, it’s worth it.
An avid reader, Maitha has always dreamt of being a recognized novelist and poet. For the last decade she focused on HR as a career, which has taken her away from her dream, but it’s never too late. Her column Pocket full of Books focuses on book reviews and doesn’t necessarily focus on a specific genre.
Latest posts by Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani) (see all)
- Book Review: The Girl On The Train - November 11, 2016
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Book Review - September 22, 2016
- Stuck in Space: A Book Review on The Martian - April 21, 2016