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We Need to Talk about Kevin - Book of the Month

by Lionel Shriver

Drop everything! This spectacular book will grab you and will not put you down, keeping you guessing until the final pages. Eva’s words may cause us all to reflect on the nature of parenthood and its multitude of responsibilities, welcome or not.

Eva Khatchadourian unburdens her thoughts in a series of letters, unfolding a story of love and parenthood that goes tragically wrong. In a series of seemingly logical steps, the couple shifts away from the old, glamorous life in Manhattan and blunders into a living hell in the suburbs, where Eva’s identity is gradually chipped away. It is a shift away from independence and success, to a very different existence, bounded by the constant needs of a young family. The reluctant and misguided Eva struggles with every aspect of it, especially with Kevin, who from birth presents the most extraordinary challenge, especially to his mother. Their uneasy relationship begins to obsess her and it is only with hindsight that Eva regains some control and is able to make some sort of sense of their topsy-turvy world. It is significant that Eva’s voice is central to the book and her version of events and perception of the boundaries of normality may be open to interpretation. As Kevin grows up we begin to fear for everyone around him and predictably, he is set on a course of destruction finally wreaking a most terrible revenge. The tension mounts as Shriver heaps on more revelations, keeping us guessing until finally the story is out.

I found the book, and Eva’s voice disturbing and creepy for many reasons. For a start, Kevin is extraordinarily vivid and frighteningly real, but I wondered more about Eva. For anyone interested in psychology, her narrative is loaded with clues, pointing us in certain directions and making us question how much of Kevin is nurture and how much is nature.
Read this book, prepare yourself for the shocks and do not be surprised if they stay with you for some time. As to Eva’s world - we can only wonder - where did it all go wrong?

Winner of the Orange Prize 2005.

Read our interview with Lionel Shriver.

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