Book Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

I have had this book in my TBR pile for a fair few years now and, after reading it, I’m not sure why I waited so long. Yes, I’m aware that there is a film adaptation, which I thought is watched but can’t for the life of me remember. The book is always better though, right? I’m not really sure a movie could do this book true justice.

The book is made up of a series of letters written by Eva Khatchadourian to her absent husband Franklin, mainly about their son Kevin. Kevin, or KK as he is known to the world, is currently residing in prison after turning up at school with a crossbow and shooting nine of his classmates, a teacher and a caretaker in a bloody massacre.

Throughout her letters, Eva struggles to come to terms with Kevin’s actions and rehashes her life as a mother, documenting her pregnancy, her failure to bond with her baby, and her reluctance to give up her job to become a more hands-on mother. Kevin is a difficult child to raise, sullen, angry and manipulative, but Eva’s thoughts and actions are hardly perfect either. In contrast, Franklin’s response to fatherhood is over-indulgent and really quite ridiculous, which creates a gulf between him and Eva. But are his parents glaringly obvious faults the reason behind Kevin’s carefully planned and executed school massacre?

Now to tell you anything more would surely ruin the twists in the tale, which I don’t want to do. This was one of the best book I have read in a while. Granted, the characters aren’t particularly likeable. Eva, independent, spirited, contemptuous of American life, is often scathing and a touch bitter. The owner and creator of A Wing and A Prayer, a highly successful travel guidebook franchise, she doesn’t want a child, doesn’t want to curb her freedom to travel. Franklin, on the other hand, wants desperately to recreate the “American Dream”, with a family and a white picket fence, and is willing to brush any faults along the way firmly under the carpet. But things don’t go according to plan.

The first half of this book is a little long-winded, but persevere. It will be worth it.

Five stars on Goodreads.

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