We need to talk about Kevin. And Lionel Shriver

If you were to ask me to list my top 5 books of all time, Lionel Shriver’s ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ would definitely be present on that list. I have sort of reviewed this book previously on the blog but given that I attended a Conversation with Lionel Shriver last week, I thought I’d try and discuss that in conjunction to a book I love and have read 3 times {way too many according to the author herself!}

‘We need to talk about Kevin’ is a book written in the form of letters by Eva to her absent husband after their 15 year old son Kevin is sent to gaol for killing 7 of his classmates, a teacher and a canteen worker. It may sound like your typical high-school massacre story but the truth is Kevin has never been bullied. So why then did he set out to kill others in this manner? His mother Eva tries to come to terms with his actions and to figure out what went wrong. She wonders whether it has to do with her not wanting to have Kevin in the first place. Whether it was because she wasn’t ready to be pregnant and have a child and resented having one. Or whether it is possible that someone could be born evil. After all, when she had a second child, her daughter turned out to be the most loving and affectionate girl. The book has an ending you don’t really see coming and it hit me to my very core. Re-reading takes away the suspense but not the emotion of shock and horror attached to it.

We need to talk about Kevin. And Lionel Shriver

The nature versus nurture debate is one that keeps you thinking throughout the book. Coming from a psychological background, there are also questions about early attachment and while I am not a big proponent of blaming the primary caregiver {aka mother}, you can’t help but wonder whether an attachment problem resulted in Kevin being the way he is. Yet at the same time, every time I’ve read the book, I have empathised with Eva. Sure, the book is from her point of view. But I can feel how frustrating it must be to have your life and your career interrupted without planning. I can understand being torn in this day and world to juggle motherhood and a career. I can understand how the fear of being judged as a bad mother would exist if you don’t want children or prefer to work full time when you do have kids.

Like I told Lionel Shriver when I met her, we see a few relationships between kids and their mothers that are similar to Eva’s and Kevin’s relationship. And that’s what makes me love the book. The way it mirrors reality. A not-so-nice reality perhaps. But still, reality.

Shriver is an interesting woman herself. A diminutive  5’2 woman, looks fit as a fiddle {apparently she runs} who also seems to be a feminist and is not afraid to say things as they are. She is a straight shooter and can perhaps be a tad intimidating as a result. But she is funny too. A bit dry. And I think it comes across in her writing. I still wonder though how she thought about this book and managed to write it. It’s something that I am in awe of.

Following listening to her in conversation, I came home and purchased the rest of her books {I have only read 3 so far} and I’m looking forward to devouring them when they arrive.

So what are you waiting for?

If you haven’t read it, go get it now. And be prepared to be shocked, horrified and get tangled with a lot of thoughts of nature versus nurture and whether or not someone can be born evil.

***Linking up with Write Tribe Festival of Words Day 4: Book review***

Until next time,