tripping the life unbalanced

Sunday, February 05, 2006

#48 We Need To Talk About Kevin

Ok people. Now we are talking top-drawer kind of literature. The kind that makes me think much more than just 10 minutes. The kind that has me mulling over my thoughts and how to properly organize them for this blog entry. This book, seriously, is a work of art.

We Need To Talk About Kevin won the Orange Prize in the UK last year, and is an agonizing look at a complicated mother-son relationship. I had never read Lionel Shriver's work before, but after reading this I want to find her other stuff and devour it. The short summary is thus: a 16-year old boy (Kevin) has shot and killed his classmaters and teacher in a shocking pre-meditated murdering rampage. The book is made up of his mother's (Eva) letters to his father and her husband about the events that led up to the killings. Namely, the span of Kevin's life.

Kevin's seemingly innate evilness and Eva's distate for her son (from birth) are difficult to read at times. Difficult to understand, and difficult to absorb. Which is, of course, what makes this novel so great. Shriver plays with the prescriptions of motherhood and ideas of maternal instinct in this novel, and gives us instead a picture of the middle-class surburban hell hiding behind these prescriptions. Eva's egomania and self-loathing is mirrored in Kevin's insecurities and fury. And somewhere amidst this complicated mess of emotions there is a mother and son trying to find their way to each other. A relationship that never truly begins until they are faced with the unfathomable.

I wish I could better explain my feelings about this book. It is hard to fully explain the impact of this novel on me. Perhaps it is being a mother myself, or perhaps it was just the genius of Shriver. What I can say is this: few books have moved me so much that I continue to dream about them days after I have put them down.

Most definitely recommended.


  • Wow, you have been a busy little girl, haven't you? 3 more books! I am sorely behind. Miss you.

    By Blogger scarbie doll, at 5:32 p.m.  

  • Sounds good. But we need to talk about a play date - for mommies.

    By Blogger Marla, at 8:36 p.m.  

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