We Need to Talk about Kevin

Front Cover
Counterpoint, 2003 - Fiction - 400 pages
If the question of who's to blame for teenage atrocity intrigues news-watching voyeurs, it tortures our narrator, Eva Khatchadourian. Two years before the opening of the novel, her son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-beloved teacher who had tried to befriend him. Because his sixteenth birthday arrived two days after the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is currently in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York.
In relating the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses her estranged husband, Frank, through a series of startingly direct letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son became, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general - and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault?
We Need To Talk About Kevin offers no pat explanations for why so many white, well-to-do adolescents - whether in Pearl, Paducah, Springfield, or Littleton - have gone nihilistically off the rails while growing up in the most prosperous country in history. Instead, Lionel Shriver tells a compelling, absorbing, and resonant story with an explosive, haunting ending. She considers motherhood, marriage, family, and career - while framing these horrifying tableaus of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Tytania - www.librarything.com

We need to talk about Kevin. Right now. This novel consumed me. In a way my daily world revolved around that hour or so per night I could get back to the story. Some nights the Disturbing factor was ... Read full review

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User Review  - PhilipJHunt - www.librarything.com

Wow. I just finished reading this moments ago. I'm wrung out. This novel is just about perfect, but it's a tough read--unremittingly bleak, dark and hopeless. 468 pages of this can wear you down. Yet ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Lionel Shriver was born Margaret Ann Shriver on May 18, 1957 in Gastonia, North Carolina. She changed her first name because of her preference for it. She was educated at Barnard College, and Columbia University (BA, MFA). She has lived in Nairobi, Bangkok and Belfast, and currently lives in London. Shriver wrote seven novels and published six (one novel could not find a publisher) before writing We Need to Talk About Kevin, which she called her "make or break" novel. She won the 2005 Orange Prize for her eighth published novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin, a thriller and close study of maternal ambivalence, and the role it might have played in the title character's decision to murder nine people at his high school. The book created a lot of controversy, and achieved success through word of mouth. The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 was published in May 2016.

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