We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel

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We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel

by Lionel Shriver

HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS | April 22, 2004 | Trade Paperback

We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel is rated 4.2593 out of 5 by 27.

In this gripping novel of motherhood gone awry, Lionel Shriver approaches the tragedy of a high-school massacre from the point of view of the killer’s mother.In letters written to the boy’s father, mother Eva probes the upbringing of this more-than-difficult child and reveals herself to have been the reluctant mother of an unsavory son. As the schisms in her family unfold, we draw closer to an unexpected climax that holds breathtaking surprises and its own hard-won redemption. In Eva, Shriver has created a narrator who is touching, sad, funny, and reflective. A spellbinding read, We Need to Talk About Kevin is as original as it is timely.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 416 pages, 8.11 × 5.11 × 1.11 in

Published: April 22, 2004

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 006072448X

ISBN - 13: 9780060724481

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting point of view The mother of a multiple murderer searches for truth as to why it has happened at the same time she tries to find peace with her decisions to stay close to the son she has never understood. The story may be a bit unbelievable at times, it is very touching and troubling. And even though I guessed the ending, it is still shocking and sad just like the crime it portrays. This novel raises a lot of questions about our love of watching tragedy unfold before our eyes while keeping our distance.
Date published: 2013-07-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Started a bit slow for me, but really picked up. 4.25 stars Kevin shot eight kids and one teacher at his high school, shortly before Columbine. This story is told after the fact, by his mom, Eva, in letters written to Kevin's dad, Franklin. Eva initially didn't even want kids, and Kevin was a little odd. The letters back up to before Kevin was born and work their way up to the shooting and beyond, with some “current” storyline as to what's happening with Eva now, thrown in from time to time. It did start off a little slowly for me, but it picked up after Kevin was born, and really picked up in the last quarter of the book or so. I hated Franklin almost as much as I hated Kevin. There was a few times where I temporarily lost track of what time frame I was reading about, but that didn't happen often. Now I want to move up my tbr a nonfiction book about psychopaths that I've been planning to read for a while.
Date published: 2012-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning Eva builds her own hate fans by the admissions she makes about her mothering. Except no matter how much you want to not like her-her brutal honestly implores you to not only like her but respect her insights. This story will stay with you long after you turn the last page. So well written! Tough subject that we should all talk about. Kudos to Lionel Shriver.. make sure you read her "About the Author" at the end of the book.
Date published: 2012-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant!!!!! Hands down one of the most thought-provoking and disturbing books I have ever read. One reviewer noted that reading this book is watching a person slowly go down the steps of hell. That is exactly what I thought when I went through the book. I am not one to re-read a book, or even passages of a book, but with this writer’s masterpiece, I was constantly re-reading parts, over and over again. Of course, this made it longer for me to finish the book, but I didn’t care. This was because the book kept making me feel one way one minute (i.e. sympathizing with the husband franklin), then the next thinking the husband was crazy and siding with the son, Kevin. The book is so smart that it makes the reader not only witness characters proceed to hell, but makes one examine one’s own beliefs, morality and, in essence, makes one examine what their own hell would be. I have never read a book that made me fully examine every aspect of my life, both now and when I have kids. It’s funny, in many ways the book asks the age-old question, “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”. Was Kevin born a psychopath, or was he a product of his environment? In short, the book is great, one of the best I’ve read.
Date published: 2011-09-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Verbose but interesting I would have given this book 4 stars but for the writing style/language which was unnecessarily verbose. I chose this book for my bookclub in hopes that it would inspire a nature vs nurture debate, which it did. But most people found it too dense (in the use of language sense) to really "enjoy" it. I found this book disturbing given the Columbine nature of the content; but the book really picked up in the last 100pp or so, and made it very worthwhile. Read at your own risk given that the criticisms about verbiage by other reviewers is 100% accurate. A hesitant recommendation.
Date published: 2011-07-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Chilling. Stunning. Brilliant. Woah. I can't say I "liked" this story, since it is a horrific and violent story. But, I did like the book. A lot. The writing is fantastic, the building of the story is masterful, the development of the character of Kevin is believable and terrifying, the sentiments of Kevin's mother Eva are easy to understand and easy to relate to... this was an artfully created and terrifyingly realistic picture of the life of a murderer, as well as an uncomfortable review of parenthood in today's world. The ending? Brilliant.
Date published: 2011-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Chilling This is a gripping story. It's hard to believe that the author did not actually go through all this, it's so realistic. The writing was excellent and the book gets more and more fascinating as you read on. It really makes you think of the whole concept of nature Vs. nurture
Date published: 2010-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommended! This is such a fantastic book! Everyone needs to read this!
Date published: 2010-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from HOw much of a Mother's influence When Deanna at the HarperCollins Facebook group suggested during July that we read this book free online at their Browse Inside feature, my first response was to give it a pass. I didn't really want to read about a kid killing his school mates. Out of respect for Deanna I decided at least I would go and read the cover blurb about the book. - That's when I found out that the book wasn't about Kevin, rather it was about his mother and her thoughts surrounding her son and how she raised him and ultimately whether as his mother she was somewhat responsible for his actions. - After the first few pages I was hooked. Yes, it is a tough subject matter, but it is part of our reality so I read on. I found that every so often I could identify with Eva. I suspect that many parents could if they are honest with themselves. - I appreciated the way Ms. Shriver doled out the details of 'Thursday' bit by bit. Too much at once could have overwhelmed me. As it was I could digest the bits and was prepared when the next letter revealed more. The book is presented as a series of letters to Kevin's father. - The last chapter was my undoing. The gift that Kevin gave to his mother on the two year anniversary of the murders had me crying. Up to this point I was convinced that Kevin was a psychopath with no chance of redemption and then he puts that box on the table. He does have feelings for what his did. I am convinced that he had been carefully listening to his mother all his life but that he had fought against her at every turn, now he was ready to end that fight and really listen. - A very good read, though I won't recommend it for very sensitive readers or for someone who is feeling depressed.
Date published: 2009-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Riveting I could not put this down once I got started. It's completely fictional but really gets you thinking about what happens after a school shooting to the family of the shooter and what they go through. Not a light topic, but definitely a great read and most definitely not boring.
Date published: 2009-08-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A slow start - but worth the wait At the beginning of the book, I found Shriver's writing style took away from the plot and story development. However, once you get past all the oddly placed commas and unnecessary "big word" vocabulary, I couldn't put the book down. This isn't your typical school masacre story - I found it was unpredictable and kept you wanting more.
Date published: 2009-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Gripping! Gripping. Eerie fascination on what could go terribly wrong in motherhood.I felt anger, sadness,sympathy, disgust for the main character and the ending threw me for a loop!
Date published: 2008-11-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Spellbinding If anything, Lionel Shriver has taught me to lower my expectations with regard to motherhood. Being someone who always enjoys analyzing the inner workings of a demented sociopath, I found myself turning the pages of this book with reckless abandon. That being said, it was hard to read at times, as at length I was stymied by an arduous lexicon. lol. www.booksnakereviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2008-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read I don’t know where to start about this book. Disturbing? Terrifying? Sad? Brilliant! I could not put this book down from the minute I started it. We Need To Talk About Kevin is from Lionel Shriver. I have never read one of her books before but this book was listed on the Staff Selection shelf at my local Chapters. (staff picks at my local Chapters haven't let me down yet) It grabbed me from the first page. The story is told from a mother whose is trying to come to terms with the school massacre her son committed two years ago. Each Chapter is another letter written by Eve (the mom) who flashes back to her son Kevin growing up and the aftermath of his actions as a 15 year murderer. Reading this book, you try and find somebody to blame for the outcome of the situation. Eve. Could Kevin’s actions and personality be due to the fact she never really wanted to be a mom and Kevin sensed it? Her career was more important than nurturing her son? Kevin. Is he just a bad seed? Some people are just born evil. Franklin. (the dad) Not supporting his wife actions when trying to deal with Kevin’s actions growing up? Not showing his love enough? Being a friend and not a role model? I honestly can’t tell you. I think it would be an easy out to try and blame just one person or situation. This book is far too good. It leaves you thinking…… The chapter where you actually here the description of events of “Thursday” is beyond terrifying. I was reading this portion on the bus on the way home and I had to sit in my car until I finished reading the chapter. I couldn’t pull myself away even if I tried. I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed by it.
Date published: 2008-09-28
Rated 1 out of 5 by from overwrought, plodding narrative with little to offer This book's premise had potential- a woman writes letters to her estranged husband after their son Kevin unleashes his own brand of Columbine-esque violence at school, killing his teacher and several of his classmates. However, it fell far short of hitting an important mark. Instead of provoking questions about nature vs. nurture or inspiring the reader to think carefully about the causes of such rage in adolescents, it drags on in self-indulgent prose without ever making much of a statement or any emotional impact. Kevin's mother is not a likeable person, and I found myself unable to feel any sympathy for her. It takes forever for her to get to the point; so long, in fact, that you're never entirely sure what her point is. While it does have a bit of a twist at the ending, by the time you get there, you're just too bored to care.
Date published: 2008-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow This is not the sort of book that I normally read. I prefer to read comedies and romances. This book was disturbing, heartbreaking, and very heavy and I think it is one of the best books I've ever read. A work of fiction written as a series of letters written by a woman to her husband with whom she's separated. Two years prior to the start of the book, their teenage son killed 7 students, a teacher and a cafeteria worker at his highschool. In the letters, she describes their decision to have a child, and raising Kevin from babyhood through to the incident and the different ways they viewed him as he grew up, the strain on their marriage and life afterward as the parent of a killing-spree teen. Kevin is incarcerated in a juvenile facility and shows no remorse and she visits him on a regular basis despite what seems to be a fierce hatred they each have for one another. I won't say any more because I want you to be shocked, horrified, angered, etc by it as you read it...
Date published: 2008-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great! We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver, is one of the most powerful books I've ever had the honour of reading. The compelling story is timely in light of the tragic events in high schools and universities across the United States and, to a lesser degree, Canada. Lionel Shriver is an amazingly talented writer who demands that you feel every emotion that the family goes through. In the end, I was drained, but gained valuable insight into a very serious problem plaguing our youth.
Date published: 2008-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exquisite prose Lional Shriver is one of the most talented writers I have seen in a while. The story concerns a painful and mostly untouched subject, told from the point of view of the mother of a teenage serial killer. I found myself reading and rereading so many of the passages in this book, because I just needed to absorb and appreciate just how absolutely exquisite her prose actually is. Superb.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This was a mind boggling read. We read this for our book club. Everyone loved this book. What would you do in this situation? What if it was your child? Are killer's a product of their environment or children born evil or both? This book you will never ever forget!!!
Date published: 2008-01-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Review This book, although a work of fiction, really made me contemplate the reality of school shootings. It was an interesting read, although the use of unnecessarily complex vocabulary got a bit annoying at times.
Date published: 2007-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunned to almost silence... This was quite possibly the best book I've ever read, and I don't think I've ever read anything where I've had such intense feelings for the characters. I literally could not put this book down, and felt like I lived and breathed this story for the time it took me to read the book (quite a while...it deserves to be read slowly). There were twists and turns I did not see coming, and I certainly experienced a range of emotions from discomfort to revulsion, but felt mesmerised to keep reading. I did not laugh, but I certainly did cry. If the author does not have any personal experience or connection to the subject matter, then she deserves an award for her imagination and insight.
Date published: 2006-08-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Chilling look at adolesence This is a book that will stay with you long after the final page is turned. It is a haunting, chilling tale of a mother's desperate attempt to understand and come to terms with her role in the life of her troubled son. Lionel Shriver delivers an unforgettable story that will have you questioning how we deal with troubled teens, how we determine what the warning signs are, and ultimately who is culpable when a child commits the unthinkable. A well-written book that seamlessly weaves a fictional story within the framework of a modern day contemporary nightmare.
Date published: 2006-08-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What would it take to unravel you This book is all about feelings and raw emotions. What would it take to unravel your life? I found it a bit hard to get into at first, I guess because it was so harsh. As soon, as I got into the life of the characters, I was hooked. I could not imagine going through what this family goes through and surviving. What are the decisions that we make everyday that will influence the rest of our lives? What option do you have as a parent when a child places the life of the whole family into the balance? What do you do when you cannot explain it to yourself? This book is not for the faint of heart and it will tug at your emotions while cleverly letting you take part in someone else's life.
Date published: 2006-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wow... What an interesting yet disturbing book. I found the story a little hard to get into, but it was worth sticking with it. By the end of the book I found that I could not tear myself away...I had to finish it!
Date published: 2006-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Updating the unreliable narrator To label this book a novel about a Columbine style killing, as many seem to have done, is to miss the point. Certainly the high-school shootings are a dramatic hook to hang the piece on, but there are many themes and tones to this book. Shriver, who has written six other novels, seems to be critically under-rated, at least until now. In the character of Eva she's created a complex, modern woman - one who's expected by everyone, including herself, to have a child, but is unsure of her abilities as, or ultimately her desire to be, a Mother. A fascinating read.
Date published: 2005-06-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A novel about motherhood Although the title of the novel refers to the child, the book is really about the mother, Eva. The author takes you on a journey through Eva's life from childhood through marriage and even labour! The last 100 pages are incredible. It is explicit and honest, but allows the reader to take a peak into the mind of a child who kills. Read this book even if you are not a mother or a woman for that matter.
Date published: 2004-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow... This is not the sort of book that I normally read. I prefer to read comedies and romances. This book was disturbing, heartbreaking, and very heavy and I think it is one of the best books I've ever read. A work of fiction written as a series of letters written by a woman to her husband with whom she's separated. Two years prior to the start of the book, their teenage son killed 7 students, a teacher and a cafeteria worker at his highschool. In the letters, she describes their decision to have a child, and raising Kevin from babyhood through to the incident and the different ways they viewed him as he grew up, the strain on their marriage and life afterward as the parent of a killing-spree teen. Kevin is incarcerated in a juvenile facility and shows no remorse and she visits him on a regular basis despite what seems to be a fierce hatred they each have for one another. I won't say any more because I want you to be shocked, horrified, angered, etc by it as you read it...
Date published: 2004-01-09

– More About This Product –

We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel

We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel

by Lionel Shriver

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 416 pages, 8.11 × 5.11 × 1.11 in

Published: April 22, 2004

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 006072448X

ISBN - 13: 9780060724481

Read from the Book

Excerpt from We Need to Talk About Kevin A Novel by Lionel Shriver November 8, 2000 Dear Franklin, I'm unsure why one trifling incident this afternoon has moved me to write to you. But since we've been separated, I may most miss coming home to deliver the narrative curiosities of my day, the way a cat might lay mice at your feet: the small, humble offerings that couples proffer after foraging in separate backyards. Were you still installed in my kitchen, slathering crunchy peanut butter on Branola though it was almost time for dinner, I'd no sooner have put down the bags, one leaking a clear viscous drool, than this little story would come tumbling out, even before I chided that we're having pasta tonight so would you please not eat that whole sandwich. In the early days, of course, my tales were exotic imports, from Lisbon, from Katmandu. But no one wants to hear stories from abroad, really, and I could detect from your telltale politeness that you privately preferred anecdotal trinkets from closer to home: an eccentric encounter with a toll collector on the George Washington Bridge, say. Marvels from the mundane helped to ratify your view that all my foreign travel was a kind of cheating. My souvenirs -- a packet of slightly stale Belgian waffles, the British expression for "piffle" (codswallop!) -- were artificially imbued with magic by mere dint of distance. Like those baubles the Jap
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From the Publisher

In this gripping novel of motherhood gone awry, Lionel Shriver approaches the tragedy of a high-school massacre from the point of view of the killer’s mother.In letters written to the boy’s father, mother Eva probes the upbringing of this more-than-difficult child and reveals herself to have been the reluctant mother of an unsavory son. As the schisms in her family unfold, we draw closer to an unexpected climax that holds breathtaking surprises and its own hard-won redemption. In Eva, Shriver has created a narrator who is touching, sad, funny, and reflective. A spellbinding read, We Need to Talk About Kevin is as original as it is timely.

About the Author

Lionel Shriver never wanted to have children. Public vs private angst on the subject provided the seed for We Need to Talk About Kevin, her seventh novel.

Editorial Reviews

"Impossible to put down." --Boston Globe

"An underground feminist hit." --New York Observer

"This is heavy material, but Ms. Shriver tackles it with admirable panache." --Wall Street Journal

"Furiously imagined." --Seattle Times

"A slow, magnetic descent into hell that is as fascinating as it is disturbing." --Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Shriver handles this material, with its potential for cheap sentiment and soap opera plot, with rare skill and sense." --Newark Star Ledger

"Powerful [and] harrowing." --Entertainment Weekly