Thursday, June 24, 2010

My take on: We Need to Talk About Kevin

I bought this book more than a year ago. When I finally started to read We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, there was a thin layer of dust on it. The pages also looked a little weathered. For those of you who said this was a hard read, you weren't kidding!!!

On April 8, 1999 Kevin Khatchadourian lured 10 people to their deaths. One student survived, but seven students, one teacher and a cafeteria worker lost their lives. Kevin's mother, Eva, is left to deal with the aftermath. To the outside world, Kevin is a little strange, but he doesn't come from a "broken home." His father Franklin, was a doting father, but he never tried to really know Kevin. Younger sister, Celia was Kevin's pet, she did whatever he asked. But, Eva was one of the few who had Kevin figured out from an early age.

Eva never wanted to have Kevin, and perhaps he could feel that in the womb. He certainly could feel her disdain for him at birth and beyond. Kevin refused to stop wearing diapers until he was 6 years old, not because he wasn't potty-trained. But just to tick off his mother, leading to a violent exchange when it finally stopped. He trashed Eva's beloved office with a menagerie of juice, ink and motor oil to make it "special." From that moment on, Eva could only see the bad in Kevin. She will always assume the worst. It was Kevin who badly injured his sister. It was Kevin who ruined a teacher's career with a false accusation. But on that day "Thursday," Eva didn't assume the worst and wonders how she could have missed the signs. Why did Kevin do it? His answer was simple, people love watching things like this on television. Think about it! Are you more likely to be mesmerized by the story highlighting the newest restaurant in town or a high school massacre? I'm certainly guilty of this one.

The story is told in letters written to Franklin, taking you from the early years of their marriage, the birth of their children and that day, "Thursday." I was all set to rate this book "Meh," but then I read the last 30 pages. I read them with my mouth wide open at 4:00 a.m. I don't want to give anything away, but I didn't see that ending coming. I re-read the last 30 pages just to make sure I wasn't seeing things. The signs were all there, but I chose to ignore them. Up until this point, I was a little put off by Shriver's writing. I'm a copy editor, and I hate when someone uses 80 words for a sentence when 30 would have been just fine. That's what I was feeling while I read this. I thought some passages could have been shorter, but by the time I got to the end that was all out the window. As a character I hated Eva. I'm not a parent, but it's hard for me to fathom a mother hating her own child since birth. However, the ending gives you a better understanding for Eva's hatred. She and Kevin do make peace by the end, which is all one can ask for.

Rating: O.M.G. !!!!

3 comments:

  1. Was it a hard read because of the topic or the writing? (Or both?) I've had several books turn my opinion around in the last few pages. Makes me want to go back and re-read them with the new perspective!

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  2. It was hard because of the topic. There are some moments where I thought "did she really just write that?" By the end of the book I definitely had a different perspective.

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