Lynda Manstrom, December 2, 2007 (view all comments by Lynda Manstrom)
A chilling read for anyone who's ever wondered what leads a child to massacre their schoolmates. We like the safety of thinking that it was something in their upbringing, maybe abusive or neglectful parents. But what about a child who came from a happy family with loving parents and what, from all outward appearances, should have been an idyllic childhood? Told from the perspective of Kevin's mother in letters to her now-estranged husband, she relives and recounts the years from the time they met through present-day visits with Kevin in prison.
Near the end of the book, Shriver brings in a stunning and unexpected twist that chilled me to the bone. Not for the weak of heart, this one stays with you.
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hollyamber, September 28, 2006 (view all comments by hollyamber)
Shriver's work is dark, engrossing, and utterly gripping. It is a brilliant work shoing an insight into a teenager's mind that one must question how did she get so close?
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by Suzy Hansen, Salon.com,
"[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."
by Cleveland Plain Dealer,
"[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."
by Library Journal,
"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."
by Deborah Donovan, Booklist (Starred 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."
by Publishers Weekly,
"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."
This is heavy material, but Ms. Shriver tackles it with admirable panache.
by Harper Collins,
In this gripping novel of motherhood gone awry, Lionel Shriver approaches the tragedy of a high-school massacre from the point of view of the killer's mother.In letters written to the boy's father, mother Eva probes the upbringing of this more-than-difficult child and reveals herself to have been the reluctant mother of an unsavory son. As the schisms in her family unfold, we draw closer to an unexpected climax that holds breathtaking surprises and its own hard-won redemption. In Eva, Shriver has created a narrator who is touching, sad, funny, and reflective. A spellbinding read, We Need to Talk About Kevin is as original as it is timely.
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