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Janet

Lionel Shriver - We Need To Talk About Kevin

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We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

 

The Blurb

 

Kevin Katchadourian killed seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher, shortly before his sixteenth birthday.

 

He is visited in prison by his mother, Eva, who narrates in a series of letters to her estranged husband Franklin, the story of Kevin’s upbringing.

 

A successful career woman, Eva is reluctant to forgo her independence and the life she shares with Franklin to become a mother.

 

Once Kevin is born, she experiences extreme alienation and dislike of Kevin as he grows up to become a spiteful and cruel child. When Kevin commits murder, Eva fears that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become. But how much is she to blame? And if it isn’t her fault, why did he do it?

 

BEWARE - SPOILERS (AND A BIT OF PERSONAL STUFF!) AHEAD

 

 

It took me a while to get into this book (page 77 of the edition I read, which is different from the 'normal' version), but once I did, wow - I was hooked!

 

It made me feel shocked and sickened in places, and yes, I'll admit it, a little smug that I have such a good relationship with my children.

 

It begs the question whether children can be born evil. From personal experience, when I had my sonI suffered severe PND. I didn't know what was wrong with me at the time, of course. I just felt that I'd wanted a baby for so long (we'd been trying for 18 months and had just been referred to tests) and I had a very difficult pregnancy resulting in a 6 weeks premature baby - but when he was very little, he didn't seem to want to know me.

 

Like Eva, I had problems with breastfeeding and after a few weeks, my health visitor advised me to go onto the bottle with him.

 

I never felt he hated me, or that he was evil, and once I started bottle feeding things got much better, and then after a few months I went to say with my husband's parents for several weeks which helped me get over my PND. (My health visitor was a witch who just wanted to stuff me full of anti-depressants).

 

Anyway, I digress. As Kevin became older, I became more entralled about what would happen next. As soon as Celia was born, I had a sense of foreboding that something bad would happen to her eventually, and when Kevin said "Sure you don't want to say good-bye to Celie one more time? my blood ran cold.

 

I thought the ending of the book was very good. All too often endings are a real let-down. I didn't realise, until very close to the end of the book, that Franklin was dead - I'd seen Celia's death coming, but not his.

 

At times was a very difficult book to read emotionally, but compelling and, despite the subject matter, I really enjoyed it.

 

 

The 'normal' version of the paperback is 500 pages long (my version only 400 (although Amazon list it as 436!), which tells you how small the print was!) and is published by Serpent's Tail. The ISBN number is 1852424672.

 

9/10!

(Read July 2006)

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Thanks for that, janet - I'm looking forward to getting into this one as it seems rather unusual...

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I loved this book. I, too, found I had to push on with the first part, I wasn't too interested to be honest but then I found I was relating to the characters and questioning if my actions would mirror theirs.

 

 

I felt the ending was a real body blow. It actually shocked me that I hadn't seen it coming and was quite blown away by it.

 

 

Fantastic book, well recommended by me :(

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Am going to start this soon, as my real life bookclub has just announced that it is to be out August read. I bought it months ago and have really been lookng forward to it. Very pleased to finally be able to justify it!

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It seems to be quite popular on reading group lists - it's the Posh Club July read, so I really must get my skates on & start it soon!

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I've just finished rerading this one, and agree with the above comments. I think i was nearly half way through the book before i got really hooked and yes the ending was a surprise to me too.

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Phew...at last I am finished it. Can't say it was one of my favourite reads and found the way of writing a bit of a bind at times. I couldn't help but be on Eva's side being a mother of a 16 year old at the moment. How other mothers have come to terms with the tragedy of something their offspring has done like this is beyond me!!! Too many of these tragic kind of stories in real life though in USA isn't there?!?

Anyone else read it :D

Must stop reading such harrowing books.:D

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I read it last year for the Posh Club and absolutely hated it. I kept expecting it to get better and persevered to the end, but I found it very predictable and didn't manage to "get on" with any of the characters at all. I only rated it 3/10 and that was being generous - it was one of my most disappointing reads of the entire year. My review here.

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I read this last year and I had to concentrate and work hard to read it - I liked the way it was written - I thought it was very clever - I had to reread lots of bits because of her use of English. It was one of the best books I have read recently - it made me think deeply about parenting but then I do that anyway!!

 

I also read another of her books about tennis, a bit dull...

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It seems to be a bit of a "marmite" book - you either love it or hate it. Either way, it's certainly one that makes you think and gets discussion going.

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I read it last year as well, I didn't think a lot of it as well, I found Kevin a wee bit of a scumbag (I know I am stating the obvious, but still):D

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It seems to be a bit of a "marmite" book - you either love it or hate it. Either way, it's certainly one that makes you think and gets discussion going.

 

Yes I agree. I gave it to hubby to read thinking it was the kind of book he liked and he read about a quarter and gave up! :D

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I've been lent it and I can't face it.

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Pleeease give it a go!!:D

 

I'm with you h&d :yahoo: I read it last year and really, really, erm... enjoyed is too weird a word for it! :eek2: But it made it into my top 5 books of 2006 as I was completely gripped by it. One of my good friends read it very recently and she loved it!

Couldn't read it at night tho'... :D

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I read it last year and although I wouldn't go as far as saying I loved it, I did enjoy it and was a memorable read.

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I'll add myself to the support camp - definitely one of my top reads from last year. One to make you think, although I agree it's not one to "enjoy".

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I am also one of the supporters of this book. It really stuck with me and although it did take a bit to get 'into' the style, I was gripped and I have to say quite shocked by it. A fantastic book in my eyes.

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Bagpuss, what a marvellous review! I cannot express myself as well as that - you hit the mark - the book makes you deeply reflect on your childrens birth experiences and parenting skills ;)

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Bagpuss, what a marvellous review! I cannot express myself as well as that - you hit the mark - the book makes you deeply reflect on your childrens birth experiences and parenting skills ;)

:) Thanks. :lol:

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Thanks everyone.....lots of different views on this book.....;) made interesting reading.

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