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We Need to Talk About Kevin by [Shriver, Lionel]
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We Need to Talk About Kevin Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 891 customer reviews

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Length: 414 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product Description

Review

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)

A fierce challenge of a novel that forces the reader to confront assumptions about love and parenting, about how and why we apportion blame, about crime and punishment, forgiveness and redemption and, perhaps most significantly, about how we can manage when the answer to the question why? is either too complex for human comprehension, or simply non-existent (Independent)

Pitch-perfect, devastating and utterly convincing (Geoff Dyer)

One of my favourite novels... the best thing I've read in years (Jeremy Vine)

We Need to Talk About Kevin is not a treatise on crime prevention but a meditation on motherhood, and a terribly honest one (Wall Street Journal)

What an amazing piece of storytelling. I could not put the book down. (Shirley Henderson (Bridget Jones & Harry Potter actress) Daily Express 2010-07-09)

One of the most powerful books I've read... brilliant (Boy George Elle 2011-06-01)

An original and startling story of family life. A brilliant and thought-provoking read. (Jackie Brown Woman's Own 2011-08-15)

Sue Gaisford, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

'This icily forensic, deeply disturbing story takes the form of letters from the mother of a brilliant, evil, teenage murderer to her husband, recounting her prison visits and remembering the circumstances of his upbringing. Lorelei King is the queen of readers: she brings to this performance sharp intelligence and a perfect, weary restraint, building up to the fearsome denouement that freezes the blood.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1164 KB
  • Print Length: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; export ed edition (1 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004ZY0VHY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 891 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,168,384 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
This book is very well written. Contrary to other reviews of this book, I think it is a strength in the novel that Eva does not always inspire empathy in the reader. Eva is a terrifically well rounded, believable and flawed character. The book is in the form of letters to her husband trying to rationalise the tragic killings performed by her son. I think it is in trying to rationalise why Kevin committed such atrocities that Eva questions her role as a mother... is it because she didn't really want a baby, because she couldn't bond with Kevin after he was born, because she wanted a career or was Kevin just born inherently evil?

This book is gripping from beginning to end, thought provoking, funny, scary and sad... well worth a read.
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Format: Paperback
At one level, I found this a compeling read. Unlike many here, I managed to finish it, and I did not find the style distracting or over detailed. Eva is clever and opinionated and, yes, insufferable and snobby, but in many places (if not in others) she is plausible. The wider story - which is probably best read as a sort of parable - is intimately drawn, the teleogical style hiding a neat twist (which came to me as a relief, since otherwise the format and the style of the letters was not, even in the story's own terms, convincing). Kevin, like Franklin, draws and commands our attention even if, on closer scrutiny, they are too black-and-white, too two dimensional, too much like pantomime characters. Like any other liberal critique of liberalism, the book gets caught up and largely nullified by its own conclusions - if there are any. Shriver seems to me to brilliantly parody a society that must ask WHY and be answered, even when some situations and outcomes have no WHY. The true horror of Kevin is rather like the true horror of Orwell's 1984: Obrien teasing Smith with the discovered journal entry `I understand how, I don't understand why?' to which Obrien remarks, `because there is no why' Yet the impact of this nnialism is lost when, in fact, Shriver can't help put pose the why again at the end, and in the final scene, struggle to offer us an explanation which robs Kevin of much of his fictional dynamism.

In other senses the work has flaws. Though a personal account, Franklin is so ludicrious in places as to beg wider questions as to how or why Eva would have married him in the first place. Even on this side of the pond, a fraction of Kevin's antics would have landed him in some sort of therapy.
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By Brida TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 May 2005
Format: Paperback
I saw this book on BBC1's Page Turners and so decided to buy it. This novel is absolutely brilliant, I cannot recommend it enough.
The story is narrated by Eva, in letter form, as she writes to her estranged husband. Eva's son, Kevin, is in a juvenile detention centre, as at the age of 15yrs he went on a killing spree at his high school. He killed 7 fellow students, a teacher and a cafeteria worker. Through Eva's letters, the reader is taken through Kevin and her story, going right back into their past, even before Kevin was born. As Eva spills her heart out onto the paper, you are struck by how she is debating the point of just how to blame, if at all, she is for Kevin's actions.
The exploration of the past, especially Eva's relationship with her husband, brings up many areas of life and truth that are often not spoken about. This, I think, is why this novel is so good; the book is not just about Kevin's terrible crime. The dynamics of Eva and Frianklin's relationship are also explored, both as a young couple and as a family once Kevin is born.
This novel really does stay with you long after you have finished the last page. The ideas, suggestions and debates it raises are complex and intriguing, something to really get your teeth into.
This is a great book, one of the best I have read, and that really is saying something.
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