I read this book several years ago in book club.
Actually it was me who brought the book to bookclub. I liked the book jacket, and I liked the blurb.
What I did not like was that it was written in first person and in a diary entry format. And once I flipped through the book, I was reluctant to read it.
The result was it lay in book club, and no one touched it. Finally I picked it up – like an unloved child – took it home with the other 4 or 5 books, and thought: “I might get to it if I have a gap ….”
I read the book …once I had got past the first few pages, and the character of Eva, the mom started to unfold, I was gripped. She was the quintessential ”reluctant” mother, and strangely I started to see certain aspects of me in her, which made the story feel more familiar.
The story strongly debates the age-old argument of nature versus nurture.
Did Eva’s lack of affection for her son shape him into the sociopath he was to become – or was his fate predetermined from birth? Could she have “saved” him by being a better mother? And what makes a mother, better, if you just don’t have the maternal gene?
The book looks back on Kevin’s life, his mother, Eva describes her coldness toward her son and his strange behaviours, in gripping detail.
The book does not open with a sucker punch, but slowly starts to unfold. The entire time you are not quite sure what to make of the characters – so you reserve judgement, or at least try to.
Eva starts to question if her son is normal. She sees and experiences him and something in her starts to question him. Her son is alert and intelligent, and even as a toddler soon starts to get the upper hand in the relationship.
She is a first time mom, and totally out of her depth, so she is not sure if she is making assumptions because she is inexperienced, or because there is really something just a bit off about Kevin.
The book was TRULY brilliant. Even years on, it is still one of the most powerful and thought-provoking books I have ever read. It was a story that really sat with me, long after I had handed the book back to bookclub.
No matter how many books I read, and I do read several, this one still tips the scales as being the story that just sits with me.
I am not suggesting it is an enjoyable read. It is very unsettling, but the characters feel real and the author shapes this family so well, that you can’t help finding yourself lost in the fiction. .
I heard there is a movie coming out soon-soon, which I believe is brilliant, so very keen on going to see that.
If you are going to see the movie, try to read the book before you buy popcorn and a move ticket …..
We Need to Talk About Kevin
A Novel by Lionel Shriver
2003 / 400 Pages