Monday, January 8, 2018

I need to talk about We Need to Talk About Kevin

First, I have decided to resurrect this blog just to have a place to post my book thoughts and record my challenges.  No official reviewing happening here, just a place to babble about what I'm reading.  I'm glad I decided to do so because after picking up We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver on a whim, there are so many thoughts rattling around in my head after almost being late to work so I could finish it that I don't know where to start.  Here is the synopsis:

Two years ago, Eva Khatchadourian's son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a popular algebra teacher. Because he was only fifteen at the time of the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is now in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York. Telling the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses herself to her estranged husband through a series of letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault? Lionel Shriver tells a compelling, absorbing, and resonant story while framing these horrifying tableaux of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy - the tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.

Yes the subject matter of this book is as weighty as it sounds. First impressions?  This is an epistolary novel where Eva writes lengthy letters to her husband Franklin.  Her "voice" really grated on me at first as she had a rather grandiose way of conveying her recollections.  It becomes apparent right away that this lady was not cut out to be a parent.  Her selfishness, unrealistic expectations, and her inability to commit fully to her child serves as a source of tension in her marriage.  The issues are exacerbated by the fact that her husband refuses to face reality and see that their precious child has serious psychological issues and it is not just his wife only wanting to find fault wherever she can.  Together Eva, her husband Franklin, and their truly psychopathic progeny Kevin make for a perfect storm of screwed up family dynamics.  

After getting further into the book, I adjusted to Eva's way with words and was able to focus more on the story itself.  It progresses with a series of increasingly disturbing occurrences leading up to the massacre.  What started as a "What the hell am I reading and why did I pick this up?" scenario ended with me speeding to the end so I could finish and make it to the library on time.  I had an inkling in the back of my mind of how this book might end and while I was right, it still left me on edge to read it.  This is one of those books that came out of nowhere and probably will stick with me for awhile as I cannot begin to wrap my head around how three people could fail each other so thoroughly and with such disastrous results.  Glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and continued reading even though I was really not enjoying the first 3rd of the book.  I'm looking forward to watching the movie starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly.  I usually read a book and move on to the next without feeling the need for much discussion.  This one gut punched me to the point where I felt compelled to tell 4 people about this book today.  


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