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We Need to Talk about Kevin

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We Need to Talk about Kevin Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A stunning examination of how tragedy affects a town, a marriage, and a family, for readers of Rosellen Brown's Before and After and Jane Hamilton's A Map of the World.

That neither nature nor nurture bears exclusive responsibility for a child's character is self-evident. But such generalizations provide cold comfort when it's your own son who's just opened fire on his fellow students and whose class photograph — with its unseemly grin — is blown up on the national news.

The question of who's to blame for teenage atrocity tortures our narrator, Eva Khatchadourian. Two years ago, her son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a popular algebra teacher. Because he was only fifteen at the time of the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is now in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York.

Telling the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses herself to her estranged husband through a series of letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault?

We Need to Talk About Kevin offers no pat explanations for why so many white, well-to-do adolescents — whether in Pearl, Paducah, Springfield, or Littleton — have gone nihilistically off the rails while growing up in suburban comfort. Instead, Lionel Shriver tells a compelling, absorbing, and resonant story while framing these horrifying tableaux of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy — the tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.

Review:

"In crisply crafted sentences that cut to the bone of her feelings about motherhood, career, family, and what it is about American culture that produces child killers, Shriver yanks the reader back and forth between blame and empathy, retribution and forgiveness." Deborah Donovan, Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"A number of fictional attempts have been made to portray what might lead a teenager to kill a number of schoolmates or teachers, Columbine style, but Shriver's is the most triumphantly accomplished by far....It's a harrowing, psychologically astute, sometimes even darkly humorous novel." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"[W]hile Shriver attacks the phenomenon [of teenaged killers] with unflagging gusto (she heavily researched the real-life school murders of the late 1990s), she isn't preoccupied with figuring out what motivates these young men, nor does she ruminate on how a vapid American society creates adolescent monsters. Thank God for that — what we get instead is a much more interesting, thoughtful, and surprisingly credible, thriller....While the plot — that a woman's uneasy confusion about motherhood could create a killer — is over-the-top...the grandiosity of it allows Shriver ample room to explore Eva's deepest, darkest feelings about her son. It's only when Eva has lost everything that she can admit her ugliest thoughts." Suzy Hansen, Salon.com

Review:

"[A] slow, magnetic descent into hell that is as fascinating as it is disturbing....And despite an unsympathetic portrait of Kevin, when at the novel's end Eva declares she loves her son, you not only believe her but you understand why." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"The timely topic...is sure to guarantee lots of attention, but the compelling writing is what will keep readers engaged....Through Eva's voice, Shriver offers a complex look at the factors that go into a parent-child relationship and at what point, if any, a parent can decide if a child is a hopeless case." Library Journal

Synopsis:

When he was 15, Kevin murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a teacher. Here, our narrator, Kevin's mother, Eva, tells the story of his upbringing to her estranged husband through a series of letters. Who is to blame for teenage atrocity?

Synopsis:

A widely acclaimed young writer's fierce new novel, in which childbirth and new motherhood are as high-stakes a crucible as any combat zone.

Synopsis:

A widely acclaimed young writer’s fierce new novel, in which childbirth and new motherhood are as high stakes a proving ground as any combat zone

A year has passed since Ari gave birth to Walker, though it went so badly awry she has trouble calling it “birth” and still she can't locate herself in her altered universe. Amid the strange, disjointed rhythms of her days and nights and another impending winter in upstate New York, Ari is a tree without roots, struggling to keep her branches aloft.

When Mina, a one-time cult musician — older, self-contained, alone, and nine-months pregnant —moves to town, Ari sees the possibility of a new friend, despite her unfortunate habit of generally mistrusting women. Soon they become comrades-in-arms, and the previously hostile terrain seems almost navigable.

With piercing insight, purifying anger, and outrageous humor, Elisa Albert issues a wake-up call to a culture that turns its new mothers into exiles, and expects them to act like natives. Like Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and Anne Enright’s The Gathering, this is a daring and resonant novel from one of our most visceral writers.

About the Author

Lionel Shriver's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday Worldand the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Earlier books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and Checker and the Derailleurs. Her novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She lives in London.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

kamikazikat, January 25, 2011 (view all comments by kamikazikat)
Wonder-awful!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
joleen, June 12, 2007 (view all comments by joleen)
"We Need to Talk About Kevin" is a riveting story about a mother and son who do not connect with each other from his birth.

The book is presented as a series of letters from Eva to her estranged husband, Franklin, about their son, Kevin, who has murdered 7 classmates, a cafeteria worker and a teacher at his school.

The author did extensive research into the phenomena of school shootings by underage killers. The book offers one of the best insights into the mind of these child killers. It raises many questions we all need to ask ourselves and be in conversation with others. How could a child get to this point? Are some children/people just innately evil? The book addresses family dynamics, relationships, behaviorial issues, and much more.

I highly recommend this book -- especially for book clubs.

Joleen





Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(10 of 16 readers found this comment helpful)
clare_bevis, October 13, 2006 (view all comments by clare_bevis)
This chain of letters become intimate, gripping the reader, creating mystery, identifying the relationship between Kevin Katchmadourian and his family. Kevin lives a cold, lonely life deprived from a fair, loving childhood from birth. This grows on Kevin, he is clever and starts to hate his family until he triggers. He kills 9 students and 2 teachers creating intensity. The story is starling and twisting all through...the most understandable novel and very appreciable coming from a mothers point of view.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(8 of 30 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781582432670
Author:
Shriver, Lionel
Publisher:
Counterpoint LLC
Author:
Albert, Elisa
Location:
Washington, D.C.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Mothers and sons
Subject:
High schools
Subject:
Mass murder
Subject:
Teenage boys
Subject:
High school students
Subject:
New York
Subject:
Epistolary fiction
Subject:
Massacres
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series Volume:
562
Publication Date:
April 15, 2003
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

We Need to Talk about Kevin New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$25.00 Backorder
Product details 208 pages Counterpoint Press - English 9781582432670 Reviews:
"Review" by , "In crisply crafted sentences that cut to the bone of her feelings about motherhood, career, family, and what it is about American culture that produces child killers, Shriver yanks the reader back and forth between blame and empathy, retribution and forgiveness."
"Review" by , "A number of fictional attempts have been made to portray what might lead a teenager to kill a number of schoolmates or teachers, Columbine style, but Shriver's is the most triumphantly accomplished by far....It's a harrowing, psychologically astute, sometimes even darkly humorous novel."
"Review" by , "[W]hile Shriver attacks the phenomenon [of teenaged killers] with unflagging gusto (she heavily researched the real-life school murders of the late 1990s), she isn't preoccupied with figuring out what motivates these young men, nor does she ruminate on how a vapid American society creates adolescent monsters. Thank God for that — what we get instead is a much more interesting, thoughtful, and surprisingly credible, thriller....While the plot — that a woman's uneasy confusion about motherhood could create a killer — is over-the-top...the grandiosity of it allows Shriver ample room to explore Eva's deepest, darkest feelings about her son. It's only when Eva has lost everything that she can admit her ugliest thoughts."
"Review" by , "[A] slow, magnetic descent into hell that is as fascinating as it is disturbing....And despite an unsympathetic portrait of Kevin, when at the novel's end Eva declares she loves her son, you not only believe her but you understand why."
"Review" by , "The timely topic...is sure to guarantee lots of attention, but the compelling writing is what will keep readers engaged....Through Eva's voice, Shriver offers a complex look at the factors that go into a parent-child relationship and at what point, if any, a parent can decide if a child is a hopeless case."
"Synopsis" by , When he was 15, Kevin murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a teacher. Here, our narrator, Kevin's mother, Eva, tells the story of his upbringing to her estranged husband through a series of letters. Who is to blame for teenage atrocity?
"Synopsis" by , A widely acclaimed young writer's fierce new novel, in which childbirth and new motherhood are as high-stakes a crucible as any combat zone.
"Synopsis" by ,

A widely acclaimed young writer’s fierce new novel, in which childbirth and new motherhood are as high stakes a proving ground as any combat zone

A year has passed since Ari gave birth to Walker, though it went so badly awry she has trouble calling it “birth” and still she can't locate herself in her altered universe. Amid the strange, disjointed rhythms of her days and nights and another impending winter in upstate New York, Ari is a tree without roots, struggling to keep her branches aloft.

When Mina, a one-time cult musician — older, self-contained, alone, and nine-months pregnant —moves to town, Ari sees the possibility of a new friend, despite her unfortunate habit of generally mistrusting women. Soon they become comrades-in-arms, and the previously hostile terrain seems almost navigable.

With piercing insight, purifying anger, and outrageous humor, Elisa Albert issues a wake-up call to a culture that turns its new mothers into exiles, and expects them to act like natives. Like Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and Anne Enright’s The Gathering, this is a daring and resonant novel from one of our most visceral writers.

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