We Need to Talk About Kevin


During the height of the whole school shooting fiasco, I was in high school. I remember sitting home the day Columbine happened, and refusing to change the channel from CNN, and whatever updates were available. My stepmother was appalled then with my macabre interest in what was going on. I just think she didn't understand. We grow up with these people, and you see people group off into cliques leaving others to fend for themselves. Some handle it with ease, and some don't make it out alive.

I admit to having a curiosity that borders on a fascination with the inner workings of the teen mind. Why some people handle things the way they do, if it's possible to be the change in the life of someone so sad and angry. Would a simple hello in the mornings have changed the path they followed?

The subject matter was considered too raw when I was in the thick of it, but seven years later, authors are broaching the subject. And doing so with aplomb. I first read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, and though I thought it was an amazing novel, I thought it left some unanswered questions for me. So I headed on over to the recommendations section and found We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Lionel Shriver starts the book out slow. So slow in fact that you're tempted to put the book away for a good long while. Written from a mother to her husband about their son, none of the characters are immensely likeable. Trust me, do not put the book away. Soldier through the tough reading, and the horror of the extent of Kevin's sadism. The whole book is shocking.

The book starts with a letter detailing Kevin's incarceration, and the reason behind it. He's killed several people at school. And his only regret is that his infamy was overshadowed by Columbine. His mother is only slightly more tolerable.

Right from the start, the antagonism and disdain for each other is made clear. Kevin shows his true self only to his mother, who does not like what she sees. As you can imagine, this creates a very stressful tension between husband and wife.

Dad is a man's man who ignores the fact that Kevin despises all things sports, and cheerfully soldiers on. He finally finds something they can bond over: archery. So he buys Kevin a crossbow and a target. Kevin spends much of his time outside working on his aim.

The way this book is written and the context within make it difficult to read, but this is a book that stays with you once finished. It's powerful and dark, and you end it wondering if the author has some insight into a mind so venomous.

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1 comments:

Lenore said...

I also thought this was excellent!

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