I finally picked up We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver after it was recommended by a number of people. Therefore, I opened the first page with high hopes. I knew it would have more depth and adult themes than most of the books I have been reading lately, and I was looking forward to something different.
We Need to Talk About Kevin tells the story of Eva who never really wanted to be a mother. Written in the form of letters to her absent husband, it takes place two years after her son Kevin went on a rampage and killed seven of his fellow students, an English teacher and a cafeteria worker.
This is a modern and interesting story. However, it did take a while for me to really get sucked in. One reason is that it is written in a rather complicated prose, where you need to read each word carefully. Secondly, Eva begins her letters by recalling incidents that occurred before Kevin was even born. Most readers will probably begin this book more interested in the shooting incident, or Thursday as Eva calls it, meaning that the climax of the book can drag out a bit. There is also a slight twist in the story which I somewhat picked up on early in the book and was eager to have resolved, again dragging the story for me a bit.
The story touched on a number of themes. The theme of childbirth and whether or not someone is ever really ready for motherhood opens the book. It leads to what I consider the main theme of the book, whether somebody can actually be born evil or if they become this way as a matter of circumstance. As we are reading the story solely from the point of Eva, the opinion that Kevin is a monster is forced upon us. However, as the book progresses, and especially at the end, we are given hints that maybe Eva was not completely blameless. We also touch on the concept of the ‘perfect family’ through Franklin who wants Kevin to become the all-American son he always imagined.
The end of the book was the most interesting for me. I had expected to get a solid conclusion, but instead it was left open to interpretation: ‘Why did Kevin do what he did?’ ‘Can a lack of parental love actually turn a child evil?’ ‘Are the parents always to blame?’ It is certainly a book which leaves you thinking.
Overall, this was a very good read and I would certainly recommend going out and getting a copy if you are looking for a suspenseful psychological thriller.