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We Need To Talk About Kevin (Serpent's Tail Classics) Paperback – 29 Apr 2010
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Once in a while, a stunningly powerful novel comes along, knocks you sideways and takes your breath away: this is it... a horrifying, original, witty, brave and deliberately provocative investigation into all the casual assumptions we make about family life, and motherhood in particular (Daily Mail)
This startling shocker strips bare motherhood... the most remarkable Orange prize victor so far (Polly Toynbee Guardian)
An awesomely smart, stylish and pitiless achievement. Franz Kafka wrote that a book should be the ice-pick that breaks open the frozen seas inside us, because the books that make us happy we could have written ourselves. With We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shriver has wielded Kafka's axe with devastating force (Independent)
One of the most striking works of fiction to be published this year. It is Desperate Housewives as written by Euripides... A powerful, gripping and original meditation on evil (New Statesman)
Shriver keeps up an almost unbearable suspense. It's hard to imagine a more striking demolition job on the American myth of the perfect suburban family (Sunday Telegraph)
One of the bravest books I've ever read... We Need to Talk About Kevin is an original, powerful, resonant, witty, fascinating and deeply intelligent work (Sunday Business Post)
A study of despair, a book of ideas and a deconstruction of modern American morality (David Baddiel The Times)
This superb, many-layered novel intelligently weighs the culpability of parental nurture against the nightmarish possibilities of an innately evil child (Daily Telegraph)
Urgent, unblinking and articulate (Sunday Times)
[A] powerful, painful novel... There are true, terrible things said here about family life (Saga Magazine)
The Orange prize winning, million copy bestseller: now a Serpent's Tail classic, with a new foreword by Kate MosseSee all Product description
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Shriver raises questions about responsibility, about parenting and about good and evil, and makes the reader feel that there are answers, but we're just not getting them. So, I read the book every couple of years and I don't get any closer. Sometimes I identify with the mother, always I'm irritated by the father, never do I find the linchpin where disaster could have been averted.
At the first reading I was teaching disturbed/disturbing adolescents. Now I have a difficult teenage son. There has to be a linchpin - doesn't there?
William Irvine [ASIN:1785898868 The Polygamist]
I watched the film before I read the book so I was aware of the reveal, but that didn't spoil the reading of it at all. I'd say it almost made it better because you catch things you normally wouldn't notice on a first reading.
Eva is the mother of the titular Kevin and she divides opinion. I found her to be a wonderfully written character and she felt more real than a lot of other mothers in fiction. Eva is intelligent, well travelled, honest, hardworking, but she's also snide, judgemental, and a potentially unreliable narrator. The whole story is from her POV and so the things that her husband, son and daughter think and feel are being guessed at. But, in my opinion, her version of events is a lot more interesting than her husband's would have been!
Eva says the things you're not suppose to even think as a parent, never mind say. She worries about things that you're not supposed to worry about as a pregnant woman-what if my child is too fat? unintelligent? Boring? has a severe illness? She references films like Alien and Rosemary's Baby when she discusses pregnancy.
Franklin and Kevin's relationship is almost as interesting as Kevin's relationship with Eva. Franklin clearly does not know his son at all, as he defends his innocence in a string of creepy events and "boy will be boys" mischief. Eva understands her son very well. I found myself pitying Franklin for his ignorance.
The overarching question is "Whose to Blame?" Was Kevin born with psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies, which no amount of motherly love could help? Or was he born a sweet and innocent baby whose dark side was created by the his mother struggling to love him?
This book divides opinion and it makes you think about parenting, the pressures women are under to have children (that maybe they don't want), and the classic nature/nurture debate.
The film is definitely worth a watch too...a really great adaptation.