Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Reviews #24

We need to talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver

This is a book I'd 'wanted' to read for some time, but could never summon up the courage needed and trust me it needs bucket loads of courage, especially for a parent. All I knew about the plot was that a problem child was involved, otherwise why the need to talk about him? But still I shied away.

Sing at bookgroup suggested it as she loves Lionel Shriver's style of writing, although she did warn us that parents might find the subject matter tricky - that's putting it mildly!

I was so relieved to finally finish this book, I'm really looking forward to reading something light weight and frothy, I have been page counting for the last week as the book got heavier and heavier. Part way through a new character entered the plot line and I blanched, leaving the book alone for a day or so, for fear of what was to come and then in the dying pages of the book there was yet another hideous twist to choke down, a truly tough read.

So here's the plot: set in America in the late 90's, Eva is the mother of Kevin, wife of Franklin, she is reminiscing about their life to date together in a series of letters to her estranged husband. Eva and Franklin were besotted with each other, then they have a baby, Kevin. From the very beginning Kevin is not a 'normal' child, seemingly full of anger with the world, no nanny or babysitter could tolerate him and as time went on his behaviour to others worsened, nothing obvious and nothing proven, his father always believing the good in his son, but Eva felt differently, she could see no goodness in Kevin. It becomess apparent very early on that Kevin at the time of the letters is in prison/young offenders institute due to going on a bit of a killing spree at school and his mother is visiting him every two weeks despite neither of them seeming to want or enjoy the contact.

As a parent of growing children this book made me pause in my life and consider the whole 'nature/nurture' debate, and also the impact that violent video games and films have on growing minds.

It is brilliantly written and Sing promises me that Shriver's other books are nothing like as chilling as this one, so I may go on to read more of hers. I can only recommend this book but be warned, it's tough.

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