PDA

View Full Version : We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver



Lolly
09-30-2006, 01:24 AM
Has anybody else read this? I finished it a short while ago, and thought it was really powerful.

Storyteller5
09-30-2006, 03:22 AM
Good to hear. It's on my Amazon wish list. :)

It's a novel by Jodi Picoult for anyone who doesn't recognize the title.

Lolly
09-30-2006, 06:37 PM
I have mixed feelings about it. Most of the novel was great, but I disagreed with some things in the book's ending, so overall I feel kind of let down.

aruna
05-10-2007, 09:59 AM
On another thread I mentioned that I hated the narrator of this book. I have to admit now, having finished it, that she grew on me over time. The end of the book is just fantastic. The whole thing becomes unputdownable after you've slogged through the torgid style at the beginning - and grown used to it.

Who else has read it and needs to talk?

blacbird
05-10-2007, 10:53 AM
Uhhh . . . what book are you referring to?

caw

aruna
05-10-2007, 10:57 AM
We Need to Talk about Kevin. By Lionel Shriver

blacbird
05-10-2007, 11:20 AM
Okeydokey. Never heard of it, and what you were referring to wasn't clear from the OP. Sorry about the stupidity.

caw

aruna
05-10-2007, 11:24 AM
Okeydokey. Never heard of it, and what you were referring to wasn't clear from the OP. Sorry about the stupidity.

caw


No stupidity involved! For someone who's never heard of it the thread title is indeed misleading!;)

Very good book, narrated by the mother of school-shooting kid.

aruna
05-10-2007, 11:32 AM
By the way, the author of this book had already published 6 novels when she wrote this,. Her US agent refused to shop it, so she looked for a UK agent. 30 UK agents rejected it.

She dedicated it to all unpublished and struggling writers!

aruna
05-10-2007, 11:36 AM
Sorry - I got that last wrong. I found this except in an Observer article. (http://books.guardian.co.uk/manbooker2006/story/0,,1928489,00.html) It should encourage people like you, Blacbird! (my bold)


It is hard to think of another artist whose life has been more changed by winning a cultural prize than the American-born, London-resident Lionel Shriver, whose challenging epistolary novel We Need To Talk About Kevin won the Orange Prize in 2005 and has since sold more than 400,000 copies. Before Kevin, which is about a mother's attempts to understand a wicked and murderous son, Shriver was struggling to earn a living from scraps of journalism tossed to her from the high table of remote commissioning editors. Kevin is reported to be her seventh novel. In fact, it was her eighth - her seventh novel remains unpublished; no one wanted it. No one seemed to want Kevin either, until Serpent's Tail bought it for 2,500. The expectations were low. 'It's said that Kevin was rejected by more than 30 publishers before it came to me,' says Pete Ayrton, who runs the vibrant independent Serpent's Tail. 'Lionel's career was in the doldrums. Her track record wasn't good.'

And yet she continued to write, even as each new book quickly disappeared into the oblivion of the remainder bin and pulping pit. 'Cultural prizes are often given safely to someone who doesn't need one,' Shriver told me recently. 'In my case, the Orange Prize did what prizes are supposed to do - that is, to draw cultural attention to someone hitherto unknown and working very hard, which is why in my acceptance speech for the prize I said that there were a large population of such people.'

Since Kevin won the Orange, Shriver has become not only a bestselling author, with a backlist back in print and a lucrative new book deal from HarperCollins, but also a widely published commentator and columnist. Being a prize-winner has given her reach and authority; people listen to her. 'You do become resentful when you are working, as I did for 12 years, without being noticed,' she says now. 'It was becoming increasingly difficult to get my work into print. There is such a difference between having won one prize and none. You've got the cultural imprimatur. You feel anointed. But you shouldn't trust this thing. My agent keeps encouraging me to consolidate my gains by going on reading tours and so on. I guess it's all about building and keeping an audience. You keep doing it for now because, as a former nobody, you fear that your coach will turn into a pumpkin. I do feel lucky. And I do have a sense of a parallel future which could have been so different if I hadn't won the Orange. But if you ask me if I'd prefer to have had early success or what happened to me, I'd choose my story; I like my story. I like mine a lot.'

Shriver is indeed one of the lucky ones - and I like her story as well. But for every winner like her, there are tens of thousands of anonymous artists competing for recognition, their cultural capital undervalued, their currency depreciating with each new artwork that passes unacknowledged in our economy of prestige.

licity-lieu
05-10-2007, 12:11 PM
Thanks for posting that Aruna-very inspiring. I loved that book btw. I was given it as a christamas present and I basically read and finished it by the next night. Shriver is a genius with tension and pace. Worth a re-read just to study how she does it!

Elodie-Caroline
05-10-2007, 02:27 PM
I bought this book, as it was going cheap, a couple of months ago. I don't know why, but I thought that maybe the story was about a kid with autism or something and that his mum was going to talk to his dad about him etc?
I was going to take this book into hospital with me on the 21st of this month, but finding out he was a weirdo-shootist on here, I won't bother.


Elodie

aruna
05-10-2007, 03:22 PM
Yes, it's very dark. But if you're ever in the mood for something dark and serious, give it a try! Probably nor recommendable for a hospital visit. Take something light and upliftng instead!

Elodie-Caroline
05-10-2007, 09:12 PM
I'm taking 'My sister's keeper' by Jodi Picoult and 'Day of the jackal' by Frederick Forsythe instead lol :D

grommet
05-10-2007, 09:22 PM
Aruna,

This is one of those books that just shattered me. I loved it, thought it was amazing, and was sick for days after reading it because I just couldn't let go of the images which were so, so disturbing. I'm curious how folks who have kids felt reading it. I don't (yet) and i know that Lionel Shriver has been quite public about her desire not to have children, which I think adds another layer to the book (a sort of "worst case scenario" fantasy). I'm sure the impact of the book is quite different for those reading it post-VA Tech as well (I read it about two years ago).

grommet (http://www.kathrynmillerhaines.com)

Will Lavender
05-10-2007, 11:18 PM
I'm ashamed to say I'd never heard of this book. Thanks aruna for posting this; I'll definitely pick it up next time I'm at the bookstore.

Speaking of rejections. The American nonfiction book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man went through 33 rejections before a tiny San Francisco-based publisher bought it. It received no advance. Went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Harrison Ford will star in the film.

Niteowl
05-11-2007, 09:08 PM
Genius of a book. Whereas many of us are drilled into writing crisp, clean sentences, Lionel can write lengthy, complex sentence after sentence. The amazing thing is that it keeps it's flow and voice, and never feels bogged down (at least to me).

Brilliant writer. Did get a bit frustrated with the husband's ignorance on Kevin's mental condition. But, other than that, gem of a book.

scarletpeaches
05-11-2007, 09:16 PM
I loved this book. It's on my favourites list. I think it calls for a re-read soon so I can give a more detailed opinion than 'I loved it'.

The ending is just...wow. And I completely sympathise with the un-maternal narrator, strangely, given my background. I think that goes to show the power of Shriver's writing.

loiterer
05-12-2007, 12:37 AM
Has SPOILERS if you need that warning on this forum.

I disliked this book, the more so because I think Shriver is talented. The pacing is good, her style is good, she has a way with observations.

I speed-read the book, though. Something about the writing I didn't trust. Her characterisations were too negative.

I saw the ending coming, because by that stage I fully didn't trust the writer, and could see no other way she would go other than the fake shock genre-crime twist-end way she chose. Disappointing. The mother character really was the 'good' character and Kevin really was the 'evil' character. I had initially hoped the story was more complex than that. I had hoped the mother character was a self-obsessed cold male-hating woman--at least she was interesting that way, in her hate-projection onto her son. But no, as I suspected, Kevin was just born evil. Boring. Irritating. Stupid. Made the whole story pointless.

licity-lieu
05-12-2007, 02:18 AM
I disliked this book, the more so because I think Shriver is talented. The pacing is good, her style is good, she has a way with observations.

I speed-read the book, though. Something about the writing I didn't trust. Her characterisations were too negative.

I saw the ending coming, because by that stage I fully didn't trust the writer, and could see no other way she would go other than the fake shock genre-crime twist-end way she chose. Disappointing. The mother character really was the 'good' character and Kevin really was the 'evil' character. I had initially hoped the story was more complex than that. I had hoped the mother character was a self-obsessed cold male-hating woman--at least she was interesting that way, in her hate-projection onto her son. But no, as I suspected, Kevin was just born evil. Boring. Irritating. Stupid. Made the whole story pointless.


Hi loiterer,
Welcome to AW -BTW :D Hot juicy debates all round!

I couldn't disagree more. Yes, it was apparent that the narrator couldn't be trusted but that, IMO, was the whole point. Herein lies Shriver's writing mastery. The narrator was too negative for a reason. By choosing this voice, Shriver highlights the kind of negative parent/child cycle which inevitably creates the 'evil' (sociopathic tendencies) in Kevin. Indeed, the mother was far from 'good'-I think Shriver encourages us to buy into the narrator's false sense of self-righteousness. For me, she was a 'self obsessed cold male hating woman' and the complexity was created when we, the reader, are forced to grapple with our sympathies or over identifications with her--the very things that we also know contribute to the 'evil' nature of her son. I loved that we're told, from the outset that Kevin was born nasty and that all the way through we're left to ponder on that old 'nature vs nurture debate. It was IMO a complex sociological study which raised many interesting questions in my mind. And the ending? It was a heart stopping moment and, as other posters have said, left me stunned for days.

To Grommet: I have a 10 year old son but I'm not the kind of soppy do-good parent, and believe me I know them, that would shun this book because of its negative take on parenthood. I also teach kids who have been through extremely negative dysfunctional families (worse than Kev!) and all of these kids have been screwed around by their parents--the number one factor in 'at risk' behaviour, IMO. Shriver's book raises questions not about having kids but how to have kids-If you know what I mean. So no I wasnt repulsed...just saddened that people have kids when they really ought not to! And anyway who cares! It was a bloody good read :D

grommet
05-13-2007, 07:27 PM
Licity-lou,

That's a great take on the book and similar to my own thoughts. The narrator so clearly didn't want to be a parent from the get go and you're absolutely right that for every negative thing Kevin did, there was a corresponding thing that she did as a mother that in some way encouraged it. When I said worst case scenario, I meant from both ends: rearing the child from hell but also realizing that you are the worst kind of parent possible.

I'll never get the diaper change scene out of my head. That to me was the most horrifying scene of the book, if only for how in her own mind she justified abusing her own son.

I also knew the ending was coming, but I didn't take it as a cheap twist so much as evidence of the mother's own psychosis. She so desperately wanted things to be back the way they were, when they still could've done something, as parents, to "fix" Kevin.

Will, my agent repped "Confessions":) The writer actually suggested the San Fran publisher to him after they had received so many rejections, so it's not only a tale of perseverence, but also a great example of a writer feeling comfortable enough to suggest non-traditional ideas to his agent and the agent being open to try anything for the sake of his client.

grommet (http://www.kathrynmillerhaines.com)

Uma
05-20-2007, 09:55 PM
I just finished this book and so I wanted to comment. It certainly leaves a lot of thoughts flying around.

It surprises me that people here thought the ending was so crisp and clean. I knew the ending was coming as well, but still thought the nature-nurture question was relavent.

Not to mention that due to the fact that I didnt trust the narrator, I didnt completely trust the final image either. I thought it was quite ambivalent. I dont think either parent ever came off as being a good person, they were both human to a default. Thats what I thought was so effective about the book.

I think Im suggesting this to my book group for the fall.

(apologies for the poor grammar, for some reason any time I add an apostrophe I get dragged down to some annoying bar at the bottom of the page)

ap123
06-07-2007, 06:36 PM
I loved this book. It's dark, but that doesn't bother me at all. I think it was beautifully written, and a brilliant social commentary. I completely trusted the narrator because whe was so very human.

And yes, I have children (3). Being a mom does not make me a parenting expert, but it certainly has taught me the true meaning of one size does NOT fit all. That applies to each parent, each child, and each individual family.

By the way, I read this book sitting next to my daughter's bed in the hospital. Because I have a child with a neurological disorder, I think it made the book that much more poignant for me. Not the same as Kevin (by far), but very true to the reality of what is expected to be vs what is.

carousel
08-27-2007, 07:52 AM
This was my introduction to Lionel Shriver. It was the most amazing book. The ending was so unexpected. I have gone on to buy her other books, mostly I have had to order them from obscure sites as they are out of print. Her last book "Post-Birthday World" was, to me, brilliant. I find myself being able to identify with her characters, which may or may not be a good thing, lol.

I found Kevin's mother's viewpoint to be very insightful. It would be beyond hideous to be the mother of the object of utter hatred. There would be so much guilt, not only toward the victims, but towards ones own existence, questioning the role that one may have played in creating such a monster.

As a mother who can be sometimes ambivalent, I started to worry that I may be raising the next Dahmer, I mean they come from somewhere, right?:eek:

gingerwoman
10-05-2007, 02:47 PM
Did get a bit frustrated with the husband's ignorance on Kevin's mental condition Whether he was truly ignorant or just determined to pretend everything was fine is up for debate.
As a mother the book didn't bother me because my babies were nothing like Kevin. It would be much worse to read this book as a childless person who wants children one day. I don't know that there are many babies that act like Kevin did as a baby. A child with no interest in anything. That to me was one of the most horrifying parts of the book. How awful it would be to have a baby like that.

vfury
10-05-2007, 03:20 PM
My general manager loves books like We Need to Talk About Kevin, so I picked it up ater she raved about it, even though I'd been eyeing it for a while because of the title (proof that interesting titles do help towards catching a reader's attention).

It took me a while to get into it because there's something about Shriver's style that I don't quite like, but it was worth the slog. I did dislike the narrator as well, but Shriver also managed to make me sympathise with her as well (I'm one of those people who're pretty sure that they'll never have kids, so I could see where the narrator was coming from).


The book has a brilliant ending, agreed, and it left me with chills. It wasn't a book I was very comfortable with reading after midnight, to be honest.

madderblue
10-06-2007, 02:14 AM
*!spoilers!*

I just finished yesterday and loved it. And that is despite not wanting to love it at all. I rolled my eyes at the whole..."letters to the husband" thing and then the story itself...a school shooting. Come on. The writing style is also so slow...

But I ate this up. I did see part of the end coming way before hand (at first I thought hubby killed himself but after the daughter was introduced I imagined that maybe he took Celia and drove off a cliff or something). What surprised me most was not the obvious shock ending but that the whole thing was about the Kevin's mother complex. I was also surprised that while Eva was very dislikable and untrustworthy as a narrator I liked her somewhat (enough to keep reading at least).

gingerwoman
10-06-2007, 09:40 AM
SPOILER WARNING!


Well I didn't find the archery thing obvious. That came as a surprise. (Perhaps it shouldn't have.) About two thirds through she let it slip that he and Celia were dead not that they were divorced. So I don't think she intended it to be a complete surprise at the end.

madderblue
10-06-2007, 10:45 AM
I think what got me about this book too is that I've known a child much like this. This little boy at age four sat in the back seat of a car with my boy and proceeded to pull apart an empty coke can and forge a kind of knife. He then began to slice at my son. I was stunned, shocked, furious while his mother was in awe, "OMG don't you think that is the most incredible thing. He MADE that!! All by himself!" I was like, "Woman, he's psycho!" Dozens of more examples involving other children at parks and school. Just scary. The kid is currently twelve years old and since he lives in the States I don't see him much, thank goodness. I still hear stories though.... tick tick tick...

CoriSCapnSkip
10-08-2007, 12:05 PM
Although I haven't read the book, it sounds like a deadly combination of an atypical child with a mother who wouldn't do well even with normal kids and a well-meaning but oblivious father. Such a child might learn to cope, given parents willing and able to put in the extra effort needed, or another child given bad parents but good personality traits could compensate, but the combination of both poor personality traits and negligent parenting sometimes results in a "perfect storm" situation. There also seems to be a Rashomon element where every family member would have told a completely different story.

Billingsgate
10-10-2007, 05:09 PM
I've been trying to like this book. I got about 75 pages into it, 5 excruciating pages at a time, and put it aside about a month ago. I enjoy deep and introspective literature, which is why I bought it after a strong recommendation. But so far it seems to me like a book that only a mother can relate to, what with the endless details of female angst and bodily fluids. As a man (and I've actually written a book about pregnancy and child rearing) I just find it impossible to be interested in that aspect of it. Like dark and depressing chick lit. Please tell me it gets better. I may blow off the dust and pick it up again.

KTC
10-10-2007, 05:12 PM
please don't talk about me.

Julie Worth
10-10-2007, 05:26 PM
I've been trying to like this book. I got about 75 pages into it, 5 excruciating pages at a time, and put it aside about a month ago. I enjoy deep and introspective literature, which is why I bought it after a strong recommendation. But so far it seems to me like a book that only a mother can relate to, what with the endless details of female angst and bodily fluids. As a man (and I've actually written a book about pregnancy and child rearing) I just find it impossible to be interested in that aspect of it. Like dark and depressing chick lit. Please tell me it gets better. I may blow off the dust and pick it up again.

I looked at this Kevin book on Amazon, and noticed where a 5-star review said "This novel is beautifully written." I must live in a different universe, because people occasionally tell me that in recommending a book, and I buy it only to find horrible, stupid writing. So I figure it must be some kind of code phrase among the literati.

gingerwoman
10-12-2007, 12:37 PM
I got about 75 pages into it, 5 excruciating pages at a time, ...... Please tell me it gets better.

DOES IT EVER!!!!!!!!
Yeah keep reading it gets incredibly better. It's not "beautifully written." The begining is overly wordy and painful then the plot and characters take over and it's just staggering and page turning, gripping awful and yes depressing, if fictional characters depress you.


please don't talk about me.
Kevin is very very bad. We have to talk about him.

wee
10-18-2007, 09:21 AM
I don't know that there are many babies that act like Kevin did as a baby. A child with no interest in anything. That to me was one of the most horrifying parts of the book. How awful it would be to have a baby like that.


I have known at least 2 kids like this. Both were born to mothers who either were extremely depressed (one of them was given an STD by her hubby during her pregnancy & she is currently on enough antidepressants to cheer up something the size of a hippo) or just didn't give a damn about their kids & paid them no attention whatsoever. The depressed mom stuck her kid in a high chair with honey-nut cheerios all day long. When he was 10 months old he weighed more than his 4-year-old brother.

One of the worst parents I've ever known was a lady whose 16-month-old could not even crawl yet & was at the developmental level of a 4-month-old. Because mom was too busy volunteering for church committees to play with the poor kid.

Both kids have had so little human interaction that when you try to play with them or ply them with toys or ask them questions, they just stare at you blankly, no reaction at all. It will give you chills. And they don't do a fussy-windup-cry like most kids, where they start small & gradually get fussier & then cry. They go from blank stare to hysterical screaming in about 0.2 seconds, because that is the ONLY thing that ever gets any reaction for them from mom. Sometimes that doesn't even work, because she had to spend 20 minutes total feeding and changing him already today, dammit, and she deserves a break!

How is a serial killer made? Hmmm. You tell me he's born that way; I'll tell you his mom should be in prison with him.

Not trying to hijack -- just saying that these kids do exist, and they are made this way by people who are responsible for raising them. Some of them raised by moms who get lauded from the pulpit as being godly. My ass.


wee

gingerwoman
10-18-2007, 01:18 PM
But Eva wasn't like that. I mean your right but I guess what I really meant was is there such a thing as a child just born like that who mother is relatively normal and makes a moderate effort as Eva did and who doesn't have autism.
Well I mean even autisic children will get excited by bright colors and things so Kevin wasn't like an autistic child.
The dedication at the front seem to suggest that Shriver's idea for the book sprung from her imagining the worst case scenario if she and her husband had chosen to have children since they chose to never have them.

Devil Ledbetter
04-09-2012, 10:58 PM
Pardon the Zombie thread resurrection, but I need to talk about We Need to Talk About Kevin.

I read this book over a 2-day drive home from vacation in Savannah. I've become really picky and overcritical of books lately, so I was relieved to find one that I loved. It is unrelentingly dark, but gripping.

I think Eva was meant to be a somewhat unreliable narrator. Not that she's lying about how she saw things. In her post-partum depression the letdown of motherhood made it seem as though Kevin really was rejecting her, and deliberately putting on a good-boy show for his dad even as an infant. It seems a detachment disorder formed then. But that the child was a sociopath from pretty early on there is no question.

As a culture we do gauze over the literal and figurative gaping wound that is new motherhood with cuddly pastel bundles and fuzzy white baby animals. Truthful words like exhaustion, disappointment, boredom and loneliness are quashed by the threat of being deemed a bad mother.

Anyhow, I related strongly to Eva's frustration with Franklin's unshakable belief in the boy and refusal to doff his rose-colored glasses. That part of the book was very real to me, because I've lived it.

We have a niece, who, along with her mother, lived at our house for most of 2006. I won't delve too much into what a budding sociopath she was (because I could go on all day), but she really was. And for a long time no one other than I seemed to see it. Okay, my kids certainly saw it. They were aghast at her calculated machinations, her late night and pre-dawn fits of high drama, her opportunistic offense taking, the way she'd harm and humiliate them and then twist everything all around until the attending adults were demanding my kids apologize to her.

In the face of overwhelming evidence of this child's deviousness, her mother could only wail, "But she's only seven!" As if somehow her tender age made it impossible for her to be a manipulative little creep.

The darling of only seven is now only fourteen, and recently pantsed her mother in an argument. Her mother's best friend confided in me that she no longer allows Pwecious to spend the night when they come to visit, in order to protect her own 15-year-old son from trumped up accusations of sexual assault.

There is something gratifying about other people finally seeing it. In the book, Eva gets that, but oh at what a price.

WackAMole
04-09-2012, 11:09 PM
This wasn't my favorite genre to read, but I picked it up because I found the subject matter interesting.

I felt like the book really grabbed me at first, but a few chapters in, I started to feel like it was kind of dragging. It did eventually pick up again.

I thought her depiction of this characters thoughts towards pregnancy were pretty bold. We are taught as women from the beginning what we should be thinking but in this novel we get to be the fly on the wall and see what she really thinks, which I found at times to be spot on and sometimes funny.

We hear all these things about motherhood. How we should feel before we get pregnant, how we should feel once we are pregnant and how we should feel after pregnancy. And god forbid we dont have those feelings because then, we become filled with self doubt and question our own ability to be a mom. I really enjoyed reading these parts, probably better than the rest of the book itself. I did feel a bit ripped off by the ending.

Also, I felt i wanted to know more about kevin and I feel she kind of wandered off the subject sometimes, leaving me feeling like 'Okay, is SHE the problem or is the KID the problem?' Meh, Maybe thats what she intended for me to think as a reader.

Overall it was a good choice for reading IMO

Devil Ledbetter
04-10-2012, 12:14 AM
I thought her depiction of this characters thoughts towards pregnancy were pretty bold. We are taught as women from the beginning what we should be thinking but in this novel we get to be the fly on the wall and see what she really thinks, which I found at times to be spot on and sometimes funny.
I felt she hit on a lot of truths throughout the book. Eva's take on her pregnancy with Kevin was particularly poignant. That whole, your body is not your own, everyone knows better than you how you ought to eat/move/dress/think/feel while pregnant was spot on.

Another thing I loved about this book was how it delves into the culture of blame. This is especially so when it comes to kids. Show me a bad kid, and I'll show you throngs of people pointing the finger of blame at the parents. While there is plenty of truth in the how-they're-raised argument, I've never bought the whole "children are naturally peaceniks and if they're screwed-up we've only their parents to blame no matter how long in the tooth the little wartlings have become" nonsense. We influence our kids, but we don't control them. If we do control them, we're guilty of teaching them less than nothing about how to control themselves.

I especially agreed with Eva's contempt for the "victims of bullying" and "victims of break ups" and "victims of unpopularity" who shot up their schools. As she would say, "Suck it up." Honestly, who wasn't bullied, broken up with, consider uncool? It's hardly license to mass murder, and the victim-casting of these ultimate bullies is plain sickening.

There are also some masterful moments in the book where she sort of catches herself, as when she asks Kevin how he'd feel if someone smashed up something he loved. She never really comes out and says it, but the irony there, she's too smart to have missed it. In scenes like that I do think she was honestly accepting her part in Kevin's demented worldview. They were not so different.

Atlantis
04-16-2012, 10:31 AM
I haven't read this book but I saw the movie on the weekend. I will definately purchase the book soon. One thing I did not like about the story was all the finger pointing at the mother. I do agree that she was to blame for at least some of Kevin's behaviour and actions. Not everyone can handle motherhood and it really highlights how important it is to plan babies and really want them.

She was distant from Kevin and he could obviously sense her dislike and frustration and impatience. BUT I also think Kevin was born a "bad egg" with obvious mental problems from birth and that was not Eva's fault.

My sister suffers from a wide range of mental problems. We suspect that she is also a narcissist and a possible sociopath. She is incapable of accepting blame, she has to win at everything in life, she can never apologise when she has done something bad, she has problems forming and maintaining basic human relationships, and she is angry and violent and emotionally cold and distant.

I told my Mum the plot of this book/movie the other day and she went real still and looked at me with wide frightened eyes and said Kevin reminded her of my sister.

I don't think my sister would ever wake up one day and willfully decide to kill someone but she has attacked my father and done serious damage to his car and has thrown things at him in a fit of rage in the past.

My parents have wondered if they raised her wrong, if they are to blame, and I don't think they are. My sister has always had a cold, standoffish personality. She never played with her siblings and always distanced herself from the rest of the family. We have made efforts to be nice to her and include her for 30 years and it is as pleasant and fun as trying to get blood out of a brick. We finally kicked her out of the family this year after she attacked my father and damaged his car. And man has it been a huge relief. We realised that just because someone is blood does not mean we have to tolerate their bad behaviour or be friends.

Kevin is a bad egg. His Mum was not perfect but she tried her best. In the end Kevin made his own choices and the only one who should be blamed is HIM.

CaroGirl
09-04-2012, 05:33 PM
Another resurrection. :)

I just finished this book last night and found it absolutely fascinating. I'm completely haunted by the images of the ending and, as the parent of a 15-year-old boy, freaked out by the character of Kevin.

**spoilers**

The one thing I found most disappointing, and that I wasn't expecting, was the death of Franklin. Maybe it's petty, but I really wanted Eva to be able to say, "See, I told you so!" She was totally robbed of that satisfaction (told you it was petty ;)). In fact, Franklin's character was the least believable. I hope his bluster covered some doubt because Kevin's psychopathy seemed so obvious to Eva, and to us.

Although an unreliable narrator, I found Eva's account scathingly honest, particularly with regard to her feelings toward Kevin. Parenting is HARD and some of a parent's innermost thoughts and feelings might be regarded as inappropriate if they aren't within acceptable parental guidelines. We're supposed to feel pride and joy at our little wonders ALL THE TIME. We're supposed to revel in their EVERY accomplishment. If we're disappointed in them or resentful toward them for even a moment, we need to quash those feelings, not talk about them, try never to FEEL that way again. But it happens. And to acknowledge that should allow us to justify those occasional feelings of lack of joy and our own inadequacy.

Overall: LOVED it!

Devil Ledbetter
09-04-2012, 09:34 PM
**spoilers**

In fact, Franklin's character was the least believable. I hope his bluster covered some doubt because Kevin's psychopathy seemed so obvious to Eva, and to us.

His denial was nearly pathological, wasn't it? Because of my experiences when our niece lived here--her mother's refusal to see that her child's frequent histrionics were always opportunistic, or the way she'd sit in rapt credulity while the kid spun tall tales (still blaming an imaginary friend at age 8, I kid you not), or the positive spin she'd put on explaining the kid's tantrums and vicious pranks--Franklin's denial of reality hit all too close to home for me.

CaroGirl
09-04-2012, 10:29 PM
His denial was nearly pathological, wasn't it? Because of my experiences when our niece lived here--her mother's refusal to see that her child's frequent histrionics were always opportunistic, or the way she'd sit in rapt credulity while the kid spun tall tales (still blaming an imaginary friend at age 8, I kid you not), or the positive spin she'd put on explaining the kid's tantrums and vicious pranks--Franklin's denial of reality hit all too close to home for me.

Scary. I guess it's true that people see and believe what they want to see and believe. Denial is a powerful weapon against reality.