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Janet

Lionel Shriver - We Need To Talk About Kevin

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I read this book earlier this year. It`s very thought provoking and stays in my mind even now quite a few months after I finished reading it.

 

 

agreed - I think about it from time to time :welcome:

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Alright so I picked this up from the library today, and have only read about 25 pages or so (Geez, this type is tiny!! :welcome: ) but I'm already struggling a bit with the writing style, as I find her letters a bit self-indulgent and rambly. I came onto the boards to see what the majority opinion of this book is, and I found that it seems to be split right down the middle.. love or loathe, as others have put it.

 

I'm going to keep trying, since it's so early in the book, and I noticed some of the readers here got hooked about halfway in.

 

Feel free to weigh in if you've read this one recently or have any insight. :smile2:

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Well Bethany

 

I have both feet firmly in the support camp. I am HUGE fan of Lionel Shriver, I like her writing style. I have read The Post-Birthday World this year and loved that too.

 

I thought We Need to Talk About Kevin is one of my favourite books of all time. However, I have been told by many people I have a very odd taste... so... :welcome:.

 

What I will say though is that the writing style doesn't change throughout the book, so if that is what you are struggling with then I guess you may not take to it at all. It is not 'entertaining' or a 'fast paced page turner' and by no means 'fun'; but it is very real and raw, offering lots to think about. I recommend it very highly.

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I have only just joined this site and hadnt heard of this book until now. Have just finished reading Jodi Picoults nineteen minutes though so might give this one a go xxx

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I have noticed that the love-hate divide for this book seems to be based on parenthood. People who do not have children tend to dislike it, whereas those who have had children, particularly new mothers (like me) love it.

Am I totally wrong? Do you love this and not have children?

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I've started it and am finding it very tough to get into, for the same reasons as Beth. I gave up on it for a bit as I've a review book and exams at the moment. I'm not giving up yet. I have a friend who thought it was brilliant and his girlfriend liked it too.

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As much I did not like it, it did have a lot of insights, which I found interesting, I did try to see Kevin as a misunderstood young boy but his actions were appalling and scary.

 

By the end of the book I hated Kevin, his whole attitude to being 'outdone' by another school massacre showed the level of his cruelty. Eva, I don't think she deserved what happened to her at all, the fact she visited Kevin in prison showed some strength of character but I do think, maybe if she had shown the same strength of character before Kevin did what he did, the situation would be somewhat different.

 

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Farmlane, I'd be interested to hear if anyone with children fell on the "strong dislike" side of the divide, too!.. I hadn't thought about it maybe coming down to children vs no children, but maybe you're on to something? Although, I'd be a bit surprised if all mothers could love it.. I can't imagine many mothers feel towards the babies and children as Eva does, and I think it'd be downright hard for some mothers to read and try to relate to the emotions portrayed by her?

 

Roxi, I made it through 150 pages total yesterday, and I've found the best way for me to do it is to just concentrate. I read the first 30 or so pages on the elliptical yesterday while in running motion, so that admittedly makes things a bit harder to focus on. If you're already sitting still, concentrating, and really focusing, I am not sure what else I can offer. :welcome:

 

By no means am I LOVING the book, but I've found if I concentrate, I can get sucked in just a little bit. I'm fairly disturbed by this woman.. From the subject matter I knew it'd cover, I didn't expect it to be fun or a "joyous" read or anything, but I didn't expect SUCH nonchalance, disdain, and (what seems like right now at this point in the story) lack of love and concern for a child from a mother. I'm not a mother, nor is my "clock ticking," as they say.. but I still find it difficult to understand how someone can feel this indifferent to her child. The difficulties, the frustrations, even the anger when he's a small baby, I can grasp.. The complete lack of affection or concern, I'm having trouble figuring out.

 

I'm also wondering about Shriver's story.. She must be a unique lady to be able to write this! When I finish the book (and I feel strong hope I will now, despite the still-present self indulgence and rambling in her letters), I'll read the interviews and bios about her and see what I can sort out.

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Hi Bethany, everyone,

 

My friend went to a book signing/'lecture by Lionel Shriver and apparently she dislikes children.

 

:welcome:

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Hmm, I was considering adding this to my wishlist but after browsing the thread I am not really sure it is my type of book, so I might steer clear.

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Hi Bethany, everyone,

 

My friend went to a book signing/'lecture by Lionel Shriver and apparently she dislikes children.

 

:welcome:

 

I can't say I'm really shocked by this.. and I don't even think it's THAT terrible if those are just her true feelings and she's not comfortable around children or not sure what to do with them, etc. I didn't grow up in the company of younger children, so I'm sometimes unsure of how to relate to them or how they think, all that stuff... BUT I certainly wouldn't be capable of writing a book in which a mother feels these feelings towards her child. I wonder if this woman truly almost despises children?? I keep thinking that this kind of writing has to come from SOMEWHERE... ??

 

Hmm, I was considering adding this to my wishlist but after browsing the thread I am not really sure it is my type of book, so I might steer clear.

 

You know, Dan.. you seem to like books that may have some controversy behind them, can strike up lots of discussion, or are a little off the beaten path. I'd actually recommend you pick this one up at some point when your TBR list is a little low (haha!) or you're in the mood to give something unique a try -- I bet you could maybe see this book in a way that's different from how others see it, or lend a perspective that isn't realized often. You never know..

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You know, Dan.. you seem to like books that may have some controversy behind them, can strike up lots of discussion, or are a little off the beaten path. I'd actually recommend you pick this one up at some point when your TBR list is a little low (haha!) or you're in the mood to give something unique a try -- I bet you could maybe see this book in a way that's different from how others see it, or lend a perspective that isn't realized often. You never know..

 

I don't know Beth, I am finding that as I read more books this year I am just becoming more sappy and pathetic. It all sounds a bit too hard-hitting for my fragile mind. :welcome:

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Although, I'd be a bit surprised if all mothers could love it.. I can't imagine many mothers feel towards the babies and children as Eva does, and I think it'd be downright hard for some mothers to read and try to relate to the emotions portrayed by her?

I thought it was a great read, but I don't think the phrase 'love it' summed my feelings up.  I seem to remember saying something along the lines that it was difficult to read but that it made me think of my relationship with my own children, which is thankfully nothing like Eva's. :smile:

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Yes, I remember seeing your thoughts when I first found this thread, Janet.. You're right! I'd love to read this as I am, childless, and re-read later in life as a mom. I bet it's a TOTALLY different perspective, and at times I think I'd feel really uneasy. Also, thank goodness your relationship with your children is different.. but can you imagine reading this and seeing some signs of your own child in Kevin? Not that your child would end up taking the path Kevin took, but still.. spooky!

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Yes I was pondering this earlier as I was having coffee with a friend who has a completely different relationship with her son than I do with mine (not that he's anything like Kevin, I hasten to add!) and wondering how she'd react to it.

 

It's certainly a book that provokes thought - whether one 'enjoyed' it or not. :welcome:

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I have noticed that the love-hate divide for this book seems to be based on parenthood. People who do not have children tend to dislike it, whereas those who have had children, particularly new mothers (like me) love it.

 

Am I totally wrong? Do you love this and not have children?

 

 

mmmmm you are possibly right.

 

 

I do think having chidren affects how we think about everything. Perhaps it's the finally learning what unconditional love is really all about. There are many reasons why somebody can dislike a person of any age, even mothers can dislike their children but it doesn't mean they don't love them. Unless you are a parent I guess that's quite difficult to 'get'.

 

 

I am reading a book that quotes a passage from 'The Solace of Leaving Early' by Haven Kimmel:

 

 

“I honestly believe that people who never have children or who never love a child are doomed to a sort of foolishness because it can't be described or explained, that love. I didn't know anything before I had him, and I haven't learned anything since I lost him. Everything that isn't loving a child is just for show.”

 

 

(Of course as a personal disclaimer I am NOT suggesting anybody without children is 'foolish' or incapable of intense love. :razz:)

 

 

It must be like hell on earth for your child to grow into what the rest of the world can justifiably call a 'monster'. Why are some kids from the same family who have had the same advantages, love, benefits (or lack of) grow into fantastic upstanding members of the community and their siblings murderers?

 

 

I read an artlcle recently about how some victims of head injury (car crash victims and the like) suffer from enormous mood swings causing them to be aggressive and even violent in some cases. A difficult birth?

 

 

Can we, parents, society protect us from mother nature's accidents? We are all innocent until we 'do' something to be guilty of... even if our mother's may have suspected it was coming.... but how on earth would she say it.... and to whom?

 

 

This book raises numerous questions for all of us. I saw the letter writing as a sort of self inflicted therapy. Yes they were indulgent and rambling but they were for HER, nobody else.... more like a ledger, so rambling and detailing were all a sign of her trying to make sense of it all.

 

 

Heavens I can ramble too can't I? :friends0:

Edited by rwemad

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As much I did not like the book, it did stay with me, I was thinking about it for ages after I finished. I kept thinking of Kevin's sister, I could not get past what had happened to her. :friends0:

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I finished this book last night, after a few days of only putting it down to go about the plans I'd already made and committed to. (Review on my thread in the Reader's Blog section.)

 

This morning, I read some interviews held with Lionel Shriver, and she said the first draft of the book didn't start out in letter format at all, but she changed to the letter format to shape it into a less self-indulgent piece:

 

Why did you decide to write We Need To Talk About Kevin as an epistolary novel?

While I did write my first draft in the second person, addressing it directly to Eva's husband Franklin, the novel did not start out in letters. Later I decided to literalize her appeal to Franklin in order to avoid the implicit self-indulgence of her seeming to write in a journal or something,

and also to deliberately help to disguise the nature of my ending.

 

(http://www.harpercollins.com)

 

 

Thank goodness for that! :friends0: All kidding aside, I'm not sure I would have been able to keep reading past page 30 if it had been any MORE self-indulgent, and I would have missed out on the whole book. The self-indulgent bit does seem to be a point she attemped to address at least, through the format change to letters, so I'm glad she made the change!

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I`ve heard such mixed views of this book, it seems to be like marmite, love it or hate it and no in between. :) I`ll have to try reading it myself to find out.

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I certainly understand the less favourable comments on this novel!:smile2:

However, I found the writing itself pretty great.... I was gripped from the first chapter where Shriver describes the way in which couples come home from their respective days and drop morsels of their activities at each others feet in a similar way to cats dropping mice as offerings at their owners feet. Isn't that exactly what we do?

In terms of the parent/child relationship, I found that the novel played on my own insecurities. As someone without a close relationship to my own mother, I have often wondered if I am capable of being a natural maternal mother. Its the age old question, nature versus nurture? My book club got a lot of fodder for this question within this novel! I am definately a fan.

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I am struggling to get past the 100th page, as is my general rule before condemning a book to the unread pile but finding this very hard going, it is rather dull. I bought it as was recommended as a good psych read but so far it is just a woman writing diary style letters to her ex, very uninspiring. So I suppose what I am asking is "Does it get any better????"

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I'd like to know what people thought of this as well as it's on my book pile.

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