“We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver
Once in a while a book comes along and immediately sucks you in, then holds you by the throat for a while, then punches you in the gut in the climactic moments. You read the book in one sitting, terrified and engaged, and when you finish the pages you realize you’ve just read a game-changer.
Welcome to “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, Lionel Shriver’s bestselling novel of parenting, young men, violence, and an all-too-common scenario.
As a reader, you know where the book is going before you begin. Through his mother’s letters to her estranged husband after the events of that Thursday (the only thing she can call that fateful and blood-filled day) we bear witness to the life story of Kevin Khatchadourian leading up to his terrible school massacre. As Eva pours out her honest side of the story – she was a distant mother but noticed his dangerous oddities his entire life long, but young Kevin was the light of his father’s life and played both his parents every day of his life. Eva’s letters are often hard to read, but they’re compelling, and it’s not a book with easy answers.
I was riveted and stunned by this book – though I knew what it “was about” there were moments where I felt like I’d been slapped with surprise. “We Need To Talk About Kevin” is a masterwork of a novel, delivered to the world at a time when (perhaps) we need it most – a time when school violence has become so common that even something has horrific as Newtown Elementary doesn’t have the power to affect change in policy due to bog-money organizations and shady politicians. “..Kevin” is another voice on the side of the human casualties of these events, and one that deserves to be read widely and loudly. It’s amazing.
Also, reading it as the parent of a son is extra-mind-blowing.
**There’s also a recent film version of this book, starring Tilda Swindon and John C. Reilly. I have no doubt it’s wonderful and brilliantly-acted, but I don’t think I have the stomach to watch it. Time will tell. **