We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin

eBook - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
That neither nature nor nurture bears exclusive responsibility for a child's character is self-evident. But generalizations about genes are likely to provide cold comfort if it's your own child who just opened fire on his feel low algebra students and whose class photograph with its unseemly grin is shown on the evening news coast-to-coast. If the question of who's to blame for teenage atrocity intrigues news-watching voyeurs, it tortures our narrator, Eva Khatchadourian. Two years before the opening of the novel, her son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-beloved teacher who had tried to befriend him. Because his sixteenth birthday arrived two days after the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is currently in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York. In relating the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses her estranged husband, Frank, through a series of startingly direct letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son became, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault? We Need To Talk About Kevin offers no at explanations for why so many white, well-to-do adolescents whether in Pearl, Paducah, Springfield, or Littleton have gone nihilistically off the rails while growing up in the most prosperous country in history. Instead, Lionel Shriver tells a compelling, absorbing, and resonant story with an explosive, haunting ending. She considers motherhood, marriage, family, career while framing these horrifying tableaus of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.
Publisher: [United States] : Counterpoint, 2011
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: hoopla digital
ISBN: 9781582438870


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Nov 18, 2016

Unlike other readers, I was unable to get through it...the self pity was too much to put up with.

Mar 08, 2016

You can probably skim over the first 70 pages or so and not miss much. The narrator tends to use unnecessary "big" words to explain things, which to me came off as somewhat pretentious; and literally none of the characters are likable. All that being said, We Need To Talk About Kevin eventually becomes an interesting, worthwhile read.

CMLibrary_akeller Jan 20, 2016

While I did occasionally get annoyed at the narrator, this book kept me reading well into the night. It really got me thinking and the ending shocked me. I liked seeing the progression of Kevin (and his mom-the narrator) over the years. I also appreciated the back and forth from the present day to the past. It probably could have been edited better, but overall a good read.

Aug 20, 2015

the movie was quite moving

Jul 09, 2015

Disturbing novel about a mother - who has reservations about having a child - and a son she eventually has who does not get the attention he deserves -the resultant consequences can be devastating.
Very well written novel; written by the perspective of the mother as she was writing to her husband about what lead to the boy in predicament. Does she believes it's her fault for not being the mother she should have been?

I almost gave up in the beginning ( too many descriptive phrases and words- not enough action) but hung in there till the end. Very well written.

WVMLStaffPicks Feb 01, 2015

A teenage boy goes to his school one day and kills 7 students and 2 adults. Why? This compelling story told through a series of letters written by his mother to her husband explores her feelings and relationships with her son and her family. The book on CD also includes an interview with the author.

FW_librarian Nov 05, 2014

Formatted as letters written to her husband a year later, this is the painful and reflective voice of a mother recognizing what went wrong when her teenage son methodically plans and kills 9 people at his high school.

May 16, 2014

I was ready to bring this book back to the library. The way this woman writes letters to her husband and the words she uses reminded me of watching Dawson's Creek when I was younger - people in read life do not talk like this. As the story goes on, I sort of warmed up to her, she isn't the perfect mother. She wasn't horrible either - how could her children turn out so completely different from each other - they were born like that. Why do I think he spares his mother that Thursday? Because she is the only one who has ever known the real Kevin, who has seen him for who he really is not someone they want him to be.

Jan 25, 2014

This is a well written novel done in an epistolary fashion. Though ostensibly about her psychopathic son the broader look of the novel is American culture, parenthood and relationships. Very well crafted and an interesting read.

samutavi Aug 15, 2013

I saw the movie before I read this book. Even though I knew from the start what the painful revelation would be at the end of the story that did not lessen the emotional impact. This is a good (and difficult) book. There are some very honest moments about the ambiguity and doubt that can sometimes plague you as a parent. It is an extreme example in that the child does something particularly awful, but the challenges his actions present to his mother are reflective of the more typical difficulties of parenting. This one made me think.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

Aug 20, 2015

KShaheed321 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 15 and 14


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at Skokie Public Library

To Top