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Customer Review

91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Description of Clinical Psychopathy in a Child, 30 July 2007
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This review is from: We Need To Talk About Kevin (Paperback)
Schriver is frequently slated for writing a book about motherhood when she is childless. In slating Schriver and in condemning Eva (Kevin's mother) reviewers overlook the fact that Kevin scores highly on the Cleckley checklist used to identify clinical psychopathy and Eva also alludes to all 3 of the classic triad of childhood indicators of psychopathy. She's done her homework in this respect. Kevin evades diagnosis (there is a great unwillingness to diagnose psychopathy in children) and the family are left to flounder with a child whose behaviour cannot be modified with either reward or punishment.

As a mother, Eva blames herself for not bonding with a son who is incapable of bonding or, indeed, of forming normal relationships. She does her best to understand and cope with his aberrant behaviour, but faced with her husband's refusal to acknowlege the problem and his inability to see through Kevin's play-acting, she is out-manoeuvred by her own son. Through it all she loves her son as best she can, but his inability to respond in a normal fashion stymies her attempts to mitigate his behavioural and deep psychological problems.

It takes a while to get into the book, but as the story progresses, it becomes hard to put it down. The real reason for Eva's estrangement from husband and daughter is a twist I didn't see coming until a few pages from it. The final scene, however, seems out of place.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Dec 2010 10:04:25 GMT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 10 Oct 2011 13:33:02 BDT
Best most balanced review and NO....I dispdnt see the ending coming either....I wondered about several things but nope, it got past me.

Posted on 17 Feb 2012 11:19:11 GMT
Gemica says:
I didn't see the twist coming either, I strongly disagree that it was at all apparent.

But I also disagree that the ending was out of place. The prospect of moving to an adult facility apparently scares Kevin - he admits as much in the final few pages; what is there left for Eva to do other than grasp this as some small token that Kevin's nature might not be as immutable as everyone believes? And furthermore I think it brings us full cycle - a woman who failed to understand the nature of motherly love when her child was an infant has come to realise that for her (as for most women) there is NOTHING your child can do that is so heinous that it can destroy your love for him.

Posted on 23 Nov 2012 23:09:52 GMT
The twist is 'lampshaded' once, very early on, where she's talking about the election. But the narrative keeps turning you this way and that - and I found it utterly compelling.

Posted on 20 Mar 2013 03:32:44 GMT
Charlie says:
The review by S. Hartwell reflects my views on the novel almost entirely.
After the first few pages, I was 'hooked' and found it difficult to put down.
The reason for Eva's estrangement from husband and daughter was indeed a twist, and I did not see it coming until almost the end. However I dont agree that the final scene is out of place ....In fact I would say it is a perfect ending!! Definately not expected. This is one of the very few novels that has left an impact on me, and I cant stop thinking about it. Im looking forward to watching the film.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2013 09:17:35 GMT
Haha! Glad someone else felt like me!
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