My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Shortly before his sixteenth birthday, Kevin Khatchadourian kills seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher. He is visited in prison by his mother, Eva, who narrates in a series of letters to her estranged husband, Franklin, the story of Kevin’s upbringing.
I don’t think you’re supposed to relate so fully with a woman who has raised a sociopath for a son, but there is something about Eva Khatchadourian that is so unerringly human that you just can’t help but understand exactly where she is coming from throughout the entire novel. We Need to Talk About Kevin is one of those novels that you nod along to, understanding fully despite having to remind yourself that really you have no idea what it might be like to live with someone that evil! Lionel Shriver is clearly an accomplished and incredibly intelligent author. She writes with a beautifully poetic language that captures you from the first page. This book will definitely give any prospective parent nightmares for a long time to come. I keep looking at my kid and thinking something along the lines of ‘Thank God you’re such an angel. Don’t think I should tempt fate a second time. Just in case!”
I don’t know if as the reader you are meant to blame Eva for the wrongdoings of her son. I certainly did not, but then I am very much personally under the impression that sociopaths are born and not made. Maybe not always, but often there is nothing you can do about the ways of another person. A good upbringing is not always enough.