My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The gripping international bestseller about motherhood gone awry.
Eva never really wanted to be a mother – and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.
OK, OK, this is the second popular book I’ve reviewed that isn’t speculative fiction, but its bizarre premise made me have to read it. I’m so glad I did.
This is the story of the aftermath of a school shooting as told by the shooter’s mother. If that doesn’t make you want to read the book, nothing I’m going to say will change your mind. But I’m still going to tell you this is a must-read. It will make you think, it will make you question your assumptions, and it will make you cry. Before reading one word, the story promises to be difficult because it’s about one of the least remembered victims of a horrific tragedy.
We Need To Talk About Kevin takes us through Eva Khatchadourian’s journey to make sense of what happened. She starts before Kevin is born, agonizing over her and her husband’s decision to have children. She describes Kevin’s childhood years in detail and through the lens of the horrific thing he did. She ascribes a certain adult intelligence to him even as a toddler, calling into question her reliability as a narrator while simultaneously forcing us to see that evil glint in his eye.
Ms. Shriver does an amazing job shining a light into the nooks and crannies of Eva’s life, both past and present. This morally ambiguous picture forces the reader to confront whether Eva is the victim of her son or Kevin is the victim of his mother. Eva describes their lives and her own worries and fears, but leaves much unsaid, much for the reader to draw his or her own conclusions about. I both loved and hated Eva throughout the book, sometimes at the same time.
And I’m not kidding when I say I bawled at the ending.
Although this is not my usual fare, this book so moved me that it goes into my “top books of all time” category. It’s touching and difficult, ugly and beautiful. It makes me question motherhood–what I assumed and things I never thought about. It’s something I recommend everyone should read.