Author: Lionel Shriver
Pub Date: 2003
It's hard to tell someone that you really enjoyed a book when the book is as disturbing and discomforting as We Need to Talk About Kevin.
The novel is told in letters written by the narrator, Eva to her husband Franklin. We quickly find out that Eva is an independent, free-spirit, who has strong beliefs about the "establishment" (even though she's quite well off), and although she might be a good friend, does not appear to be very nurturing. Alternatively, we have her husband, Franklin, who through the reminiscent letters, is portrayed as being more American than apple pie - an all-around-guy who would love to be zapped right into a Leave it to Beaver episode.
So are we really surprised to find out that Eva is disinterested in her pregnancy? Of course not. And while at first, told in a different story, we might feel animosity toward this woman and how she interacts with her son, Kevin, in this story we partly understand.
You see, Kevin was always a little "off", a quite unhappy little boy who couldn't be pleased, bothered, or amused. His adolescent years are no different, but we begin to sense he's a bit "off" *and* malicious. Oh, and did I mention that he's sitting in jail for killing nine classmates, a teacher, and a cafeteria worker?
In a time when the press was perhaps becoming a bit desensitized with all of the school shootings, Shriver embarks on this incredible journey where we hear from not the mother of the victim, but the mother of the murderer. The novel is substantial, frustrating, and pulls the reader into questioning the roles of nature vs. nurture.