We Need to Talk about Kevin

We Need to Talk about Kevin

by Lionel Shriver
3.8 232

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We Need to Talk about Kevin 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 232 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finshed this excellent novel and I am overwhelmed. The writing is outstanding, and I have not been able to stop thinking about these characters. Kevin is a sociopath AND he is evil. Mostly, I am struck by Eva's love for Kevin, which is apparent throughout, but especially at the end of the story. This novel is thought- provoking, disturbing and frightening. I highly recommend this novel to readers who love to figure out the endings (I did, with the help of wonderfully placed clues) of incredibly well written books. Truly the best novel I've read in a long while!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' because of the subject matter. Not because it was about a killing spree at a high school, but because it was told from the viewpoint of the mother of the boy who killed his classmates and a teacher. It puts a twist on the 'common' Columbine-like story. The novel begins after the melee, as the mother, Eva, traces the history of her son Kevin back through his days as an infant, through all his apathy and wicked stunts growing up. She tells Kevin's story in long letters written every other week or so to her estranged husband. At first, this seemed like the actions of a crazy woman trying to re-establish her marriage. But who on Earth would ever want to reconcile with a nagging, pretentious woman who uses long diatribes with $10 words to fault you throughout your marriage? Not until halfway through the novel was my interest fully grabbed and I didn't tire of reading another whiny letter from Eva. Up until that point, Eva comes off as a pompous woman with whom I really couldn't relate...and really didn't want to. You later realize, though, that this perspective is probably the way Kevin viewed her and why he held such resentment for his mother. The story itself is a good example of the old Nature vs. Nurture debate. Are people inherently born evil? Or is it based on the way they're raised? Although this novel doesn't answer the question, it gives credence to both arguments and can make for an interesting discussion. The ending of the novel is very dramatic and offers an interesting manipulation in events, which I appreciated. At that point, I was absorbed into the characters' lives and actually wanted more. I felt like a part of their 'dysfunctional' family. The characters felt real, with the exception of Franklin, Kevin's father, who resembled the 'golly gee' Mike Brady from The Brady Bunch (the movie version, not the TV one). It's hard to believe that Eva would ever marry such a naïve man. After finishing the novel, my only disappointment (and boredom) with the actual writing was that the author used an overload of detail to tell what turns out to be an excellent story. (My Creative Writing teacher would have scratched red lines through numerous sentences and paragraphs, as they seemed extraneous). Less is more! If I learned anything from reading this book, it can be summed up in this one sentence: 'You can call it innocence or you can call it gullibility, but [she] made the most common mistake of the good-hearted: she assumed that everyone else was just like her.' On that note...don't watch your back, watch what's in front of you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the most brutally honest books I have ever read. Taking such a different slant on such a tragedy was thought provoking. An unforgettable look at our culture and getting right to the core.
adnilws More than 1 year ago
I was taken by the book's honest portrayal of what can be a difficult mother/child relationship and then the whole family relationship centering around an emotionally distanced child. The book moved carefully, gradually more intrigueing as the relationships emerged. Excellent read.
Shadow5618 More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books I have ever read. Yes, it's wordy, like most of Lionel Shriver's books, and yes, she doesn't always use the simplest of words. And yes, you need more than a 6th grade education to appreciate it. The quintessential question of nature vs. nurture which is the main theme of this book is one that more people ought to be thinking about in these troubled times. Can a child be born bad? Or can you mold the child to BE bad? Eva struggles with this question throughout the book as it races (and yes, I said races!) to it's horrifying climax. I couldn't put this book down, and when I finished it promptly read it again to see what I had missed the first time. Shriver always has a twist in her books that you never see coming, and this one took my breath away. (If you liked this book, read her "So Much for That".) I think Lionel Shriver is BRILLIANT, and this novel should be mandatory for anyone who is even thinking about having children.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was interesting. When I finished, I was amazed that the author could write a book with an ending that made you feel like everything may be ok. But, then I started to see some darker interpretations of the ending. Like some of the other reviewers, I approached this book with some trepidation. But it was ok. Of course, my children are grown and so the topic is not so close to home. I guess my final conclusion is that it is a very good book, but that just may be because it didn't disturb me deeply as I was afraid it might. It's a nice bit of fiction and doesn't have any deep insight into the problem of children committing murder or even into families.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised at how great this book was. Although the book is a bit slow in the begining it does pick up and you find yourself guessing how it's going to end...my guess was off the mark. Although you're not given a clear cut answer as to WHY Kevin did what he did you can draw your own conclusions based on all the 'tell tell' signs of his childhood. I don't think that Eva was any more of a 'villain' than Franklin was an absentee disciplinarian. Children DO crave boundaries. Perhaps Kevin would have responded differently had their parental tactics been role reversed? The end of the book was marvelous and showed that Kevin wasn't this super human bad seed and a mother's love no matter how cold and aloof she may be perceived IS in fact unconditonal in every sense.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an incredible read. The narrator writes letters to her husband, revisiting their lives together both before and after the birth of their son. Fifteen year-old Kevin has murdered 7 of his classmates, a teacher and a cafeteria worker. The mother speaks matter-of-factly, talking about how she felt about the child from the moment he was born, how she is seen and treated by the community in general and by the families of her son's murdered classmates. She reminisces, scatters hints and then quietly drops bombshell after horrific bombshell concerning her life with her family. A well-crafted psychological sketch of the ultimate dysfunctional family- I highly recommend this tale.
FoggyBiker More than 1 year ago
The writer uses language well, in my humble opinion - if only she had used it to tell a story, instead of having the story unfold in letters. No woman in the universe - no matter how austere, educated, narcissistic, etc. - could have penned these letters. It was simply unbelievable that such letters could ever have been written. Shriver should simply have told us her story, instead of infusing the book with unrealistic letters from wife to estranged husband. I could not stop rolling my eyes and wondering who on Earth would write like this. Answer: Nobody. Not today, not in 1800, not ever. It was that bad. I look forward to the movie in this instance, knowing that Tilda Swinton can save it. I hope they don't have her reading letters for 2 hours though. Skip it and hope the film is better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is very odd. For one thing, i would have liked it if the book touched more on the shooting and why he did it. Also, i didn't like the format of the character writing letters to the husband. It was great in the beginning, but than it slowed by the middle and got worse in the end. Couldnt even finish it.
code7r More than 1 year ago
“We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a fictional story of a mother who is desperate to figure out why her 15 year old son would carry out his plan to murder in cold blood seven classmates, an English teacher, and a cafeteria worker while on school grounds. Evoking memories of Erik Harris and Dyland Klebold, Kip Kinkel, and other youth who bring bloodshed to school, this book tries to show the life of how one teenager may make this fatal decision and perhaps the signs that should have been seen leading up to it. I’m not sure if the author was trying to point out that there are always signs, but often parents don’t want to see them. It definitely felt that this was what she was trying to do with the child in this story, Kevin Khatchadourian. It also helped to illustrate what happens to the family that is left to deal with the aftermath. The story is told in letters that the mother, Eva Khatchadourian, writes to her husband who is no longer in the picture. It isn’t clear until the end why he is not there. Did he blame her for what happened? The book is written for the general reader who is interested in trying to understand what makes schoolyard killers to, first, desire to kill, and second, to actually follow through on it. Were their signs that should have been seen while the child was young that the parents missed? Were they born this way? Nature v. Nurture is definitely a running theme. To be honest, I found the first half of the book tiresome to get through and also stopped reading. It seemed like it was mostly about a “woe is me” mother and how life has been unfair about her. I wasn’t interested in how unfortunate she felt in how her life turned out, but how her son came to be who he was. Luckily, the story picks up about half-way and becomes less about the mother and more about Kevin and also about Kevin’s father and sister. The second half was hard to put down and I was glad that I didn’t give up on the book. “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a book whose subject matter is apt to get most people’s attention. We all desire to get into the minds of people who do acts that are so unthinkable so that we can understand why they did what they did. Could they have been stopped? Were they just misunderstood? We never really find out in this book since it is told from the viewpoint of the mother. Seeing how she had to deal with the consequences was definitely interesting. She struggles to figure out what could have been done differently and will probably never find an answer to that. As a reader, I would love to see a companion book that tells this story from Kevin’s point of view. Overall this was an interesting read and the second half of the book really picks up, whereas I felt the first half was hard to get through. I am glad that I stuck with it because it did come to the point where I wasn’t able to put down the book until its conclusion.
JennGrrl More than 1 year ago
This book is difficult to get into at first, but stick with it. It's worth it at the end. This is about a completely dysfunctional family. The parents have a son, Kevin, that they don't realize is going down a road that is, ultimately, going to affect the entire family, and several other families in the community. Kevin is not getting everything he wants or needs out of life, so he turns to violence as the answer. This novel not only goes through Kevin's emotions and thoughts, but also through his parents. I found myself getting completely angry at Kevin's parents. Instead of realizing that they made mistakes and realizing that the entire situation was completely preventable, they instead throw have a huge pity party. It was so completely frustrating to me to read that, but the truth is, I can only imagine that a lot of parents are like that in similar situations. Stick it out to the end. It's really worth it. Not only is this one of the strangest school shootings I've ever read of (thank goodness it's fiction), but it's amazing to go through all of the aftermath with Kevin's family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was painful, insightful, gripping, and heartstopping. Even though you know the result or 'end' from the beginning, the storytelling is so incredible, and filled with suspense, you simply must read on to the horrifying final 50 pages. Lionel Shriver is now a favorite writer for me!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Figuring out the ending early made turning the page difficult sometimes. The deliberate tone and detail of Eva's letters forced me to read so much more slowly than usual. I loved that the conclusion avoided being pat or trite. This is an amazing book, that as a new mother, will haunt me for quite a while. It is NOT for the squeamish or ultra-sensitive.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book did get off on a slow foot. The first few chapters were excruciating, but the after Kevee Wevee was born the story takes off. Attachment disorder, non empathetic, sociopath. All of these catch phrases come to mind as you read about the life of this 'healthy, happy boy' (Daddy's words). The ending was a complete suprise, but it was eluded to very subtly in places. All in all a good read. Aside: I thought Mom had some parallels to the main character in ACCIDENTAL TOURIST by Ann Tyler.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel was as disturbing as it was brilliant. I sometimes had to force myself to continue reading, but am glad I did. As a mother myself, who cannot fathom the idea of not feeling that love of your child, I felt sorry for Eva. She did love him, he was just unlovable. It makes you think, is that how all these school shooter types start? As difficult children whose parents try their damnedest to connect, only to be constantly being rebuffed and at some points, abused? It makes you wonder, and it makes you take a look at your children and wonder if, God forbid, they were to commit an awful crime would you stand behind them? I've seen parents sit behind the defendants table weep at the trials of their children, wondering themselves, how did my sweet baby do THIS? Did I miss clues? These parents are often vilified along with their children, assuming they were neglectful and provoked this behavior. The author makes you examine the story from all angles, just as she herself (Eva) does, trying to figure out how it happened. It begs the question, did Kevin spare his mother to punish her or to show love in his own way? When he gives her the "gift" at the end, and finally expresses remorse, you wonder if he is being rehabilitated or just finally becoming aware of the true enormity of his crimes. Also, the movie was brilliantly acted and portrayed the book perfectly. Ezra Miller was brilliant and scarily believable (but he's been brilliant in everything he's done), Tilda Swinton was so perfectly Eva it was amazing to watch. John C. Reilly could have been casted better, he's a little less handsome than I imagined he'd be. Oh well, still and amazing read and movie. Worth reading and worth pushing through to the end.
PokrChick More than 1 year ago
A good story that is overshadowed by the writing. I can't imagine how any reader isn't distracted by the author's over-the-top use of a thesaurus!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book. I think the author made Eva write in $10 words because that was Eva's nature. She was a highly intelligent, though pretentious, woman, a snob to some degree, and her precise choice of words would seem to fit. I thought the author described what it is like to be traumatized really well. The book enthralled me and I actually loved looking up the words she used in order to get the full meaning of the sentences.
Soozviews More than 1 year ago
This book was my book club's selection. I don't think I would have picked it up otherwise. I'm glad I read it, but the descriptions of the disturbing things Kevin is capable of are not for the faint of heart. I didn't foresee the book's ending and was surprised. There are so many questions that surface after reading We Need to Talk About Kevin. Blame? Nurture or Nature? Was Kevin a monster or a complicated, super intelligent child crying out for honest interaction with his parents. The story and its questions will stay with you for a very long time.
eloquence08 More than 1 year ago
This book was hard to rate, but only because the first 150 pages were so hard to read. The author was preparing the back story, but the wordy language made it tedious to read. I also felt like it wasn't all that necessary to the main story. The book really picks up once you start exploring the mother and son's relationship as he grows up. The ending alone make this book worth reading. I would basically describe it as a very slow crescendo to something pretty great.
Michelle1948 More than 1 year ago
This story was difficult to read. Mental illness in children is a difficult discussion. Some of this book was wandering and I found myself skipping pages. This might be good for group discussion but this is not a book that will stay on my bookshelf....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that I was a tad nervous about reading this but felt that the person recommending it had a good reputation (she recommended 'The Glass Castle'). But, I didn't imagine that I would be so engrossed in this story and I was surprised by some of the ending(s). I give Lionel shriver credit for pointing out what so many people /parents refuse to acknowledge. In this age of autism (ok, very different from Kevin), it has to be a real slog to 'enjoy' having children. So, my heart goes out to Eva first and foremost. Then, I look at Franklin and imagine how betrayed he must have felt after deluding himself into believing Kevin loved him. Of course, the innocent of them all- Celia. Trusting her twisted brother when he proved time and time again, that he was a nasty, miserable person. I will recommend it to others and look forward to reading all of her other books. Thanks for writing this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was not at all what I expected it to be. Typically I can read a book in 2- 3 days and it took me 2 weeks to read this one. Very hard to keep up with...just dragged on and on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not only did this book's ending blow me away, but throughout the novel the author brilliantly weaves in subtle hints at the dramatic climax. It started a little slow, but once you read a few chapters it is a tough book to put down. This book left me thinking about many issues...great book for someone who enjoys what I call 'reader's residue.' Enjoy.
LisaDunckley More than 1 year ago
Terrifying, chilling, and probably the CREEPIEST book I've ever read. I first came across it in 2003 and tore through it in a day—and I've remembered it ever since. I recently bought a copy on Amazon and it is JUST as terrifying as it was the first time. It is written in the form of letters from Eva to her husband Franklin, about their son Kevin. It is clear that Eva and Franklin are no longer together, and Eva feels tremendous regret. She writes to clarify things in her own mind, and to try discover what and where they went wrong—since Kevin is currently in prison for bringing his crossbow to school--and murdering 9 people there. Eva writes about Kevin's life and upbringing, all the things he said and did that seemed “off”, all the things that no one else seemed to see, all the things that in retrospect were leading up to the horrific day of the school massacre. Eva was never truly able to bond with Kevin, always feeling that he had no real emotions and was always playing a part—a role that fooled her husband Franklin completely. “Accidents” always seemed to happen to people around Kevin, anyone who annoyed him. Eva suspected him of killing his sister Celia's pets, and was convinced that he poured drain cleaner in Celia's eye intentionally, even though he said it was an accident. Everyone besides Eva believes Kevin. Eva believes he is still playing his role to perfection, and only she sees the mocking and underlying sarcasm in everything he does and says. The tension slowly builds through the novel. We know from the beginning that Kevin murdered people, the story winds like a fine watch up to the conclusion. I finished the book feeling shocked, horrified, saddened. It is rare that a book can elicit THIS much emotion, and even rarer that it has resonated with me ever since. I have never forgotten the shock and despair I felt when reading it. Recommend to anyone who likes thrillers or suspense novels. This book is hard to top!