We Need to Talk About Kevin A Novel by Lionel Shriver

A number of fictional attempts have been made to portray what might lead a teenager to kill a number of schoolmates or teachers, Columbine style, but Shriver's is the most triumphantly accomplished by far. A gifted journalist as well as the author of seven novels, she brings to her story a keen understanding of the intricacies of marital and parental relationships as well as a narrative pace that is both compelling and thoughtful. Eva Khatchadourian is a smart, skeptical New Yorker whose impulsive marriage to Franklin, a much more conventional person, bears fruit, to her surprise and confessed disquiet, in baby Kevin. From the start Eva is ambivalent about him, never sure if she really wanted a child, and he is balefully hostile toward her; only good-old-boy Franklin, hoping for the best, manages to overlook his son's faults as he grows older, a largely silent, cynical, often malevolent child. The later birth of a sister who is his opposite in every way, deeply affectionate and fragile, does nothing to help, and Eva always suspects his role in an accident that befalls little Celia. The narrative, which leads with quickening and horrifying inevitability to the moment when Kevin massacres seven of his schoolmates and a teacher at his upstate New York high school, is told as a series of letters from Eva to an apparently estranged Franklin, after Kevin has been put in a prison for juvenile offenders. This seems a gimmicky way to tell the story, but is in fact surprisingly effective in its picture of an affectionate couple who are poles apart, and enables Shriver to pull off a huge and crushing shock far into her tale. It's a harrowing, psychologically astute, sometimes even darkly humorous novel, with a clear-eyed, hard-won ending and a tough-minded sense of the difficult, often painful human enterprise.

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  • Lynn

    I thought the discussion was excellent. I gained a whole new perspective about the book & movie.

    November 20, 2013

  • Kavita

    Sorry, I cannot make it. I thought I would...loved the book!

    November 19, 2013

  • Mary Joan V

    I loved the book, couldn't put it down actually and I was all set to attend tonight but family turned up so I won't be able to make it unfortunately. : (

    1 · November 19, 2013

  • Jason

    The book was great, but unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to make this one.

    1 · November 19, 2013

  • Dina

    I think I'm going to have to beg off for awhile until things here at work settle down. I've had to miss so many meetings recently, and tonight is no exception. I'm still reading along with you just can't make the discussions lately. I hope to be back attending soon!

    November 19, 2013

  • Lorraine P.

    It has been a long time since I was a member of a book club. I am looking forward to discussing this,and other books in the future.

    1 · October 24, 2013

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