We Need to Talk About Kevin is not a book I would have picked up on my own — why would I want to read a novel about a kid who commits mass murder in his school when there is sadly too much of that in reality? However, seeing it recommended by two bloggers whose opinions I respect and generally agree with – Becky at Page Turners and Boof at The Book Whisperer – I felt that I needed to give it a go.
Eva, Kevin’s mother, is writing letters to Kevin’s father, Franklin, in the aftermath of the tragedy that Kevin has created. In these letters, she is brutally honest in a way that she couldn’t or wouldn’t be in face to face conversations; she explains how she was quite happy with her lifestyle as a travel-guide writer/publisher, jetting off to research locations for months at a time, yet being happy to arrive home to Franklin. The decision to have a child put a hold on this for her, and with the arrival of Kevin, you immediately sense that Eva regrets his birth and the sacrifices she will be forced to make. She tells Franklin of all the incidents in Kevin’s childhood that indicated he was not a well-adjusted boy; incidents that at the time Franklin accuses her of fabricating just to make Kevin look like an evil child.
She explains the day — Thursday as she refers to it — when Kevin locks nine people in the school gymnasium and massacres them. She talks of her visits to Kevin in the juvenile detention center — visits that neither of them care for. And tells Franklin about the effect Kevin’s actions have had on her personally.
Eva is not a likeable person — I found her vain and shallow — but then I think about what she has endured and I wonder how I would act in the same situation. Who can even imagine what that would be like?
I didn’t love this book, but it was an interesting, if disturbing read. I agree with Boof that it is an excellent choice for book group discussions; it would be fascinating to hear what parents have to say about it.