25 Women to Read Before You Die

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Interviews | August 12, 2015

    Jill Owens: IMG Eli Gottlieb: The Powells.com Interview

    Eli GottliebEli Gottlieb has done something unusual — he's written two novels, 20 years apart, from opposing but connected perspectives. The Boy Who Went... Continue »
    1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

      Best Boy

      Eli Gottlieb 9781631490477

Qualifying orders ship free.
List price: $15.99
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
2 Beaverton Literature- A to Z
1 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z

We Need to Talk about Kevin


We Need to Talk about Kevin Cover


What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

Annelle, January 14, 2012 (view all comments by Annelle)
omg! i just finished this book and all i can say is wow! this one amazing story of how mother comes to terms with what she was dealt with for kids. it is erie, understanding, heartwarming and heartwreching. i had reread parts of it, espically at the end, i had thought that Eva and Franklin were actually separated, not as one will read the real part. i made me rethink a lot of thigs in life. wow!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Angie K, January 5, 2012 (view all comments by Angie K)
A devastating and intelligent piece of work. It is rare to find writing with this level of commitment.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Rami, September 20, 2011 (view all comments by Rami)
We Need To Talk About Kevin is a gripping emotional look at a story that is all too often looked over. We know all about the killer, and the killed, but always very little about the killer's family, and the effect it has on them. In this novel we are given letters dripping with regret, written by Kevin's mother Eva to her estranged husband. The letters give us an insight into a much more internal world of the killer.

All in all, I'd say it was a great book. The language used was fittingly aristocratic, reflecting Eva's often snobbish outlook on life. The story gave a much needed voice to the mothers of the murderers.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
Gypsi, January 21, 2011 (view all comments by Gypsi)
In We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ms. Shriver attempts to tell the story of events, reasons, undercurrents leading up to a school massacre. The story is told from the point of view of Eva, the mother of the murderer, in the form of letters Eva is writing to her husband.

This is a very large undertaking and the premise is great. Ms. Shriver has an excellent story to tell, and at times it is well told and even gripping.

Unfortunately, the very style of the story (letters describing events to a person who was there) was a draw back. It made for very awkward language as Eva told Franklin what he already knew (with such phrases as "You told me. . . ", "You gave me. . . ") and gave a very egocentric feel to the novel from the first page, as Eva describes her her life to one who knows it intimately. I suppose this was to set up for surprises later in the book, but it simply didn't work.

The story of Eva's relationship with her husband and son would have made for interesting reading, but it was so hard to get past the fact that I was reading a novel, due to the self-important (and unrealistic) style and language. This is "a novel", and the reader is not going to forget it. There were times, though, that the story was interesting enough for me to over look this (hence the 2 stars instead of 1), but those instances were few.

In addition, We Need to Talk About Kevin is simply too long. Ms. Shriver spends too much time on details and issues that don't add to the story and that could easily have been pared. Other school shooting incidents discussed in detail, the 2000 election fiasco in Florida referred to again and again, feelings examined in minutiae. . . This book weighs in at 400 pages in oversized paperback, and would probably have been a good novel if 1/4 of that had been left out.

Another difficulty I had with We Need to Talk About Kevin was the discussions (generally arguments) between Eva and Franklin (recounted in detail by Eva to Franklin despite the fact he was there) about their son. These conversations were not realistic, read like how a young person might imagine adults talk, and certainly did not read like adults talking about their own children. Perhaps Ms. Shriver intended this, used it show the difficulty between Eva and Franklin. Perhaps, but to this reader it did have any purposeful use, and made reading even more difficult.

Due to the over-scrutiny, the self-importance and the length, by the time the book ended, the "surprise" was no surprise and the ending was simply a relief. If Ms. Shriver had kept with just the basic story, and had Eva give it in a different format, this could have been a stellar read. As it is, I advise you give it a miss.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
JLH3179, May 6, 2010 (view all comments by JLH3179)
This is one of the most phenomenal books I have read in quite some time. Told from the point of view of a mother whose son commits a Columbine-type school shooting, the book unfolds through letters from the mother to her husband, Kevin's father. You see the boy grow from an isolated child into a disturbing, manipulative teenager and a threat to his parents, sister and peers. You also see the mother transform from an independent travel writer happy in her marriage to a somewhat reluctant and resentful mother of a difficult child. Although this may seem a sensationalist topic, Lionel Shriver makes it an astute portrayal of family life and its expectations and disappointments. The book is very well-written and with plenty of twists, even if you think you already know the outcome. I have read it multiple times and it never ceases to keep me entertained and keep me thinking. Highly recommended.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(7 of 13 readers found this comment helpful)
 1-5 of 5

Product Details

Shriver, Lionel
Harper Perennial
Shriver, Lionel
General Fiction
Teenage boys
Literature-A to Z
Situations / Death & Dying
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 7
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 12

Other books you might like

  1. Nineteen Minutes
    Used Trade Paper $3.95
  2. Ten Days in the Hills Used Trade Paper $2.50
  3. The Road Home
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  4. Columbine
    Used Hardcover $6.95
  5. Digging to America
    Used Trade Paper $3.95
  6. Housekeeping
    Used Mass Market $3.50

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » 25 Women to Read Before You Die
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

We Need to Talk about Kevin Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Harper Perennial - English 9780061124297 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Shriver sent the manuscript of We Need to Talk about Kevin to her agent just after 9/11. Her agent found the book thoroughly distasteful and suggested an extensive rewrite. Shriver eventually found a new agent and published the book to great success. Twelve years later, We Need to Talk about Kevin continues to be a timely and necessary examination of evil in our society and what happens when that evil is under your own roof. It's a compelling and grim read that has a train-wreck quality to it; you can't seem to look away from the characters. Are they despicable, or well-meaning people floundering in a situation beyond their control?

"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 , "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] 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."
"Review" by , "Powerful [and] harrowing."
"Review" by , "Ms. Shriver takes a calculated risk...but the gamble pays off as she strikes a tone of compelling intimacy."
"Review" by , "Furiously imagined."
"Review" by , "Impossible to put down."
"Review" by , "An underground feminist hit."
"Synopsis" by , 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, Franklyn. 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.

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.