Wednesday, February 1, 2017

#CBR9 Review #03: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

This book is… heavy. Having seen the film a number of years ago, I obviously knew the main progression of the story, but having so much more added detail and insight into the mind of Eva made the gut-punch at the end all the more devastating (I have no idea how I could have forgotten it!).

We Need to Talk About Kevin is comprised of a series of letters that a woman named Eva is writing to her husband, some time after their son commit mass-murder at his high-school. So obviously, while the subject was pertinent at the time of writing the book (early 2000s), it continues to be so today, what with more and more tragedies occurring almost every day. The main focus of Eva’s letters follows the path of her life wherein she decided she wanted to be a mother, and her response to the event of having her son, as well as her relationship with him and the apparent personalities she saw in her son. Being from Eva’s perspective, we see her struggle with issues of guilt as she never really forms a strong attachment to her son, as well as some instances of perhaps shifting the blame elsewhere in that no one else quite noticed her son’s behaviors and true being except her. Other subjects that come to surface, albeit briefly, are the issues of the accessibility of weapons, as well as the prescribing of attachment disorders to children (which of course, can definitely influence people as they grow in life), though these are not truly the main focus of the novel. It is a deep psychological look at the aftermath of tragedy and trying to make some sort of sense of things, when perhaps maybe some of these incidents don’t entirely make sense at the end of the day.

In the first couple of chapters I had a bit of an uphill battle in getting used to the writing style presented by the author, and the voice of Eva came off as a bit pretentious at the beginning (which definitely comes into play as the whole thing goes on). In fact, about the first 2/3 of the novel are quite slowly paced, and it was a bit of a struggle for me to get into (I actually took a bit of a break about half way through and read something else in-between, as things seemed to be dragging a bit, but also being focused on such heavy subject matter I needed a quick breather). By the end, however, I was engrossed, and asking some of the same questions as Eva as she struggled with her parenting and wondering what to do both before and after her son’s act. It is an interesting look at how sometimes we may struggle to bond with and love people that we know we should, or how some people never see the true self of certain people.

Overall, despite some struggles at the beginning, We Need to Talk About Kevin was a great read. It was definitely quite intense at times, which made things a bit difficult to read, especially given the number of school shootings and tragedies in the news today. But ultimately, not quite like anything else I’ve read before, and sure to remain in my mind for quite a while.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]
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