Book: We Need to Talk About Kevin

(home recovering from a migraine — yikes. Can’t sleep so will try to put thoughts down about this book, but pardon if they are scattered…)

Well, if I’d been on the fence about whether or not to have a baby soon, this book would have decided it. Horrifying!

It was almost traumatic reading it. Did anyone else feel that way? About three chapters in, I kept thinking, “Um, I don’t know if I want to read this…” but I was addicted and couldn’t stop!

I fully empathized with Eva, even though I’ve never had children. It would be horrible to be expecting something as ostensibly wonderful as a baby, but to have your entire being *know* that it was not a good thing coming. And then to not connect with your child — very difficult. I wonder how many mothers of sociopaths can identify with this book? Did she research that? Or just created this demon child from her own imagination?

And THEN to have your kid be such a bad seed… miserable. I suppose there is this delicate ambiguity throughout the book — is he really that bad? Or was Eva seeing things through a post-partum lens that made her think the worst? I felt that it was pretty obvious that Kevin was a troubled kid – she didn’t go much into the why, although I suppose that’s the whole question of the book. I read one review that pointed out a major hole in the plot: why didn’t the parents get Kevin evaluated? Or at least Eva — why didn’t she get another opinion of him? I suppose if Kevin was as slick as he seemed in the book, he could lie to a psychologist without much trouble. But still.

I liked a lot of this book. It was unpleasant reading, most of it, but well-written and interesting. Pretty bleak, though. However, I liked Eva’s character, even though parts of her were unlikable. I enjoyed the contrast between her internationalism and her husband’s patriotism. As an exchange student, I often felt torn between the two — I loved traveling and I loved learning about new cultures and people, but I also love America and am proud to be American, even if there is a lot I find troubling. One thing about traveling is that you learn that just about every place has troubles, and that there’s no place like home. Which is, of course, why she stayed and never moved away permanently.

As for Kevin himself — enigma. Frightening. Brilliant. And in the end, almost sympathetic. Eva gets glimpses of what it must like to be Kevin, and those flashes of insight provide a human connection. Of course what he did was horrific, and of course he is untrustable — but the final scene between he and his mother was almost moving. Almost.

I did see the twist coming a long way off, but it was still well done.

Am I glad I read it? Yes. Was it pleasant? No. Was it good? Yes.

5 thoughts on “Book: We Need to Talk About Kevin

  1. Another blogger I know really liked this book and reviewed it similarly. I don’t think it’s something I’d enjoy however. :)

  2. i feel the same way about the final scene. i *almost* felt sorry for him.

    one of the parts of the book that stuck with me the most was near the end when she’s visiting him in prison and she asks him why he did it and why he didn’t kill her too and his reply is something like, “You don’t kill the audience.” so creepy and frightening.

    i’ve been wanting to read more books by this author but haven’t chosen one yet.

    • I know — it was a strange and affecting book. I wonder what her other books are like? I can’t say that I “liked” or “enjoyed” this book but it certainly kept my interest and it was thought-provoking.

  3. I can’t bring myself to read it yet. I read the interview in Oprah magazine of the mother of one of the killers in the Columbine massacre, and that was heartbreaking. I enjoyed your review though, Daphne, it was good and balanced.

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