We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

This book is one of those eerie, hard to forget books. We Need To Talk About Kevin tells the story of Kevin Katchadorian, a teenage boy who goes to school one day and kills a number of his schoolmates. In the world of school shootings, this not an unrealistic story.

Written from the perspective of Eva, Kevin’s mother, in the form of letters to her estranged husband. Eva tries to come to terms with everything that happened. Was it her fault? Was it Kevin’s upbringing and her relationship with him lead him to become a killer? Was it something in Kevin’s personality? All the questions that you can’t help but wonder about when you hear about a school massacre.

I found myself equally appalled and fascinated by Kevin, Eva, and Franklin (the father) throughout the book. And I was pleased to find myself surprised at the end of the book.

One of the most fascinating things about this story is that the story is written from the parent’s perspective. Parents seem to get ignored when talk of school shooters arises. They are blamed for what happened and no one thinks about the fact that the parents’ lives have just been shattered. They’ve just lost a child (even if not literally), people view them with horror and despise, and they can’t grieve in the open. And what do they do if their child ends up in jail for their actions? Support them? Shun them? Can they stay where they are or do they have to move?

While I’m not normally a huge fan of books written in letter or diary format, the book was done in a way that did not make it feel cumbersome. The narrative flows despite the letter style and the story is engrossing. And disturbing. There may not be a resolution to the nature vs nurture question of whose fault everything is, but We Need To Talk About Kevin leaves you with a lot to think about.

Read the book: We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel (P.S.)


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