Saturday, September 24, 2011

We Need to Talk About Kevin

A while ago, I suggested that we pick up certain books in our lives when we need them. What message is 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' by Lionel Shriver trying to send me?
   My husband and I are just starting to warm to the idea of having a baby (the thought of pregnancy, and losing my identity terrifies me), and I read about this couple who didn't want children, then decide to have a baby, and he turns out to be psychotic. This book obviously raises a lot of other issues, such as trouble teenagers, and gun control in the USA. But ultimately, it's a mother questioning whether she was a good or bad mother.

   Again, before I read this book, I had been forewarned that it was a woman writing to her husband about their son, who had completed mass murder during a School Shooting.
   The mother is so depressed, I wonder how much of her depression is tinging all her memories. Hindsight is also generally clearer than during the moment. I don't really trust her version of events. So, was she really also apprehensive about her son? Did she really think there was something wrong with him? Was he really born with a wicked her?
   I think the mother had an aversion to having a baby in the first place, so when she got post-natal depression, she believed that the baby hated her back just as much as she resented him. I don't think she ever loved him unconditionally, or at all, and he picked up on that. In fact, she never even likes him - and that is a deep secret that most people would never share. Is it so uncommon that parents dislike their children?
   She then blames him for a lot of nasty things, including the lose of his younger sister's eye to acid. She always suspected Kevin, and often vocalised this to her husband, causing fights. However, I think she was right. I do think that Kevin killed his sister's pet, I do think Kevin destroyed everything his mother created, and I do think that Kevin rinsed his sister's eye with acid.
   During the book, I was wondering whether the mother was actually sending these letters to her husband. At one point, I thought they separated long before Kevin's School Shooting. Then, I thought he was killed in a car accident and never came home. Then, I thought he was still alive and that they separated after the School Shooting and the husband took the younger daughter to live with him. It is this story that kept me reading. The mother's self-deprecating descriptions were dragging on me, and occasionally I did skip through whole paragraphs to try to pick up the story of her and her husband again. She really loves him, and wants him to come home. Should I spoil it for those who haven't read it? No.
   But I'm turned off having a baby.


  1. I'm not sure how I want to tackle this, but it's certainly wise to hold off on having a baby until both you and the father are comfortable with the idea. And I would certainly advocate that the two of you see a counselor or therapist beforehand - in fact, I'd recommend that for any prospective parents! But I wouldn't allow yourself to be "turned off" completely about the idea just because of a book or someone else's bad experience.

    Happy to have you on board for the Rule Of Three blogfest/writing project; you are lucky number 50 :-)

  2. I thought this book was brilliant. I loved how uncomfortable it made me feel, and it did make me think about how awful it would be if your child was something 'other' than sunshine and rainbows. I also loved that even by the end of the book I hadn't made up my mind about wether Kevin could have been different if he'd had another mother, or if he was predetermined to be a killer.

  3. Wow! This sounds like a powerful book. I can imagine anyone that has a child that commits mass murder, kills, rapes, or tortures others in some way must be tormented by their child's actions. I appreciate your honest review of this book- not sure if I am ready to read it yet.

    I found you through Book Blogs and signed up to follow you. When you have a chance- please stop by and follow the blog for my middle grade novel that I am hoping to get published.

    Take care-
    Jess- although I may show up as Fairday, the main character from my novel. I can't figure out why that happens and I can't fix it. :)