We Need To Talk About Kevin - Ma Titwonky

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver won the 2005 Orange Prize. I found out about this book by reading reviews for Jodi Picoult's book Nineteen Minutes. I've read both Picoult's book and Shriver's. If you want to read just one book about the horrifying event of a student going to his high school and murdering his classmates in cold blood, I recommend reading We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Kevin is born to Eva and Franklin, a couple very much in love with each other. Eva is not quite so in love with the idea of having a child, but when she becomes pregnant, Kevin enters their family.

From the start Eva does not bond with Kevin, nor does she have the deluge of maternal feelings she feels she is supposed to have. In fact, her relationship with Kevin becomes more adversarial than it does connective. Franklin does not see Kevin from the same point of view as Eva, and slowly but surely, over the years, this takes a toll on their marriage.

The story continues through Kevin's life with Eva being the only one to see Kevin's lack of connection to his family, his inability to form any friendships, and his distance from schoolmates. Franklin continues to make excuses for his son preferring to believe they are pals and that he understands Kevin while Eva simply does not. Franklin persists in believing this in spite of evidence that bad things happen when Kevin is around with the likely possibility that Kevin caused them.

This is a long book, and may, at times, become tedious for some readers. Having had some experience with a child who does not fit into any group including his/her own family, I was riveted to the pages. Shriver has an uncanny understanding of what it's like for a parent to have to admit that he or she simply does not like the child who, no matter what, prefers to stay outside the family unit. The strain this puts upon the family seems impossible to bear.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the family dynamic that produces a child who could murder innocent people. This is not to imply that the fault lies with the family, however. Sometimes things just happen, and there is no discernible reason why. For that reason I found the end of this story to be somewhat shocking. It goes to show that we never really know a person no matter what evidence we have to the contrary.