We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Harper Perennial, 2006
400 pages, 4 stars
ABOUT THE BOOK: We Need to Talk About Kevin is a novel of letters written by a woman to her estranged spouse. Eva writes about how she met Franklin, how they fell in love, and how he started to pressure her into having a family. Eva didn’t want to be a mother, and when her son was born she felt like there was something off about him (the book doesn’t say that she suffers from maternal mental illness, but it seems likely). Franklin was blind to Kevin’s strange behaviors because he was so excited to have a son. So when Kevin murders seven classmates, a school teacher, and cafeteria worker, Eva has to try to make sense of the tragedy and come to terms with her role in it.
This book is well written, but a little too academic in parts. I have a hard time understanding authors who think “more is more” when it comes to writing. Anyway, the story is incredible. I felt very connected to the main character even though there were times that I thought she was horrible. She’s contradictory and passionate (maybe about the wrong things), and Kevin uses all of this against her to make her feel small and stupid.
We Need to Talk About Kevin is a fascinating look at the other side of a tragedy—how a mass murderer’s actions affect his family and how his family contributed (or failed to stop) to his actions.
FASHION FRIDAY: Since you no longer have your travel writing company, you have no use for those stuffy business suits. So, throw on these jean shorts and sandals for your visit to the penitentiary. Kevin will not be glad to see you, but that’s not why you go. You go for answers that he won’t or doesn’t know how to give.
You wear these sunglasses around town so people won’t recognize you as the mother of a mass murderer. You constantly feel blamed for Kevin’s behavior, this tank top declares what you really think. You aren’t a bitch, you were made to do something you didn’t want to and because of it you have a low tolerance for BS.
This necklace, the arrow and crossbow, are a brand that you carry around since Kevin methodically killed nine people. Even if someone doesn’t recognize you, the second they hear your name, they know you are THE mother.
When you’re home alone and miss your husband, slip into one of his over-sized plaid shirts and warm yourself with the memory of his pure Americanness—something still so strange to you, yet alluring.