Book Reviews

We need to talk about Kevin. And Lionel Shriver

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If you were to ask me to list my top 5 books of all time, Lionel Shriver’s ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ would definitely be present on that list. I have sort of reviewed this book previously on the blog but given that I attended a Conversation with Lionel Shriver last week, I thought I’d try and discuss that in conjunction to a book I love and have read 3 times {way too many according to the author herself!}

‘We need to talk about Kevin’ is a book written in the form of letters by Eva to her absent husband after their 15 year old son Kevin is sent to gaol for killing 7 of his classmates, a teacher and a canteen worker. It may sound like your typical high-school massacre story but the truth is Kevin has never been bullied. So why then did he set out to kill others in this manner? His mother Eva tries to come to terms with his actions and to figure out what went wrong. She wonders whether it has to do with her not wanting to have Kevin in the first place. Whether it was because she wasn’t ready to be pregnant and have a child and resented having one. Or whether it is possible that someone could be born evil. After all, when she had a second child, her daughter turned out to be the most loving and affectionate girl. The book has an ending you don’t really see coming and it hit me to my very core. Re-reading takes away the suspense but not the emotion of shock and horror attached to it.

The nature versus nurture debate is one that keeps you thinking throughout the book. Coming from a psychological background, there are also questions about early attachment and while I am not a big proponent of blaming the primary caregiver {aka mother}, you can’t help but wonder whether an attachment problem resulted in Kevin being the way he is. Yet at the same time, every time I’ve read the book, I have empathised with Eva. Sure, the book is from her point of view. But I can feel how frustrating it must be to have your life and your career interrupted without planning. I can understand being torn in this day and world to juggle motherhood and a career. I can understand how the fear of being judged as a bad mother would exist if you don’t want children or prefer to work full time when you do have kids.

Like I told Lionel Shriver when I met her, we see a few relationships between kids and their mothers that are similar to Eva’s and Kevin’s relationship. And that’s what makes me love the book. The way it mirrors reality. A not-so-nice reality perhaps. But still, reality.

Shriver is an interesting woman herself. A diminutive  5’2 woman, looks fit as a fiddle {apparently she runs} who also seems to be a feminist and is not afraid to say things as they are. She is a straight shooter and can perhaps be a tad intimidating as a result. But she is funny too. A bit dry. And I think it comes across in her writing. I still wonder though how she thought about this book and managed to write it. It’s something that I am in awe of.

Following listening to her in conversation, I came home and purchased the rest of her books {I have only read 3 so far} and I’m looking forward to devouring them when they arrive.

So what are you waiting for?

If you haven’t read it, go get it now. And be prepared to be shocked, horrified and get tangled with a lot of thoughts of nature versus nurture and whether or not someone can be born evil.

I'm taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words -3

***Linking up with Write Tribe Festival of Words Day 4: Book review***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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  • Kajal
    March 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Looks like an interesting and thrilling read, indeed. And I am guess, since you are a child psychologist, you do get to meet cases where the children have faced situations like these and could connect with that. Great!
    Kajal recently posted…The Heart StoryMy Profile

  • Kajal
    March 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Looks like an interesting and thrilling read, indeed. And I am guess, since you are a child psychologist, you do get to meet cases where the children have faced situations like these and could connect with that. Great!
    Kajal recently posted…The Heart StoryMy Profile

  • Eli
    March 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    A very well written review, I like how you present it. I have read the book, and it is definitely a book you can not forget easily.
    Eli recently posted…The adventures of Allan KarlssonMy Profile

  • Eli
    March 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    A very well written review, I like how you present it. I have read the book, and it is definitely a book you can not forget easily.
    Eli recently posted…The adventures of Allan KarlssonMy Profile

  • Carrie Ann Tripp (@CarrieAnnTripp)
    March 5, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    In my line of work, I have studied many of the massacres. This sounds like a very interesting read, and I will be picking up a copy based on your review!
    Carrie Ann Tripp (@CarrieAnnTripp) recently posted…Tissues, Issues, and LoveMy Profile

  • Carrie Ann Tripp (@CarrieAnnTripp)
    March 5, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    In my line of work, I have studied many of the massacres. This sounds like a very interesting read, and I will be picking up a copy based on your review!
    Carrie Ann Tripp (@CarrieAnnTripp) recently posted…Tissues, Issues, and LoveMy Profile

  • Shailaja V
    March 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Ok, now I am torn between getting the book and meeting the author! Darn you, PB 😀

    This sounds very realistic and definitely worth a read!
    Shailaja V recently posted…Book review- Draupadi: The Fire-Born PrincessMy Profile

  • Shailaja V
    March 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Ok, now I am torn between getting the book and meeting the author! Darn you, PB 😀

    This sounds very realistic and definitely worth a read!
    Shailaja V recently posted…Book review- Draupadi: The Fire-Born PrincessMy Profile

  • Mi
    March 5, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Meeting and listening to the authors is always an amazing experience. I am definitely reading this one! 🙂 thanks for this post!
    Mi recently posted…Blog LoveMy Profile

  • Mi
    March 5, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Meeting and listening to the authors is always an amazing experience. I am definitely reading this one! 🙂 thanks for this post!
    Mi recently posted…Blog LoveMy Profile

  • sugandha
    March 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    You have picked up my book. I am a fan of Lionel Shriver and particularly of this book. It goes in my top 5 too. Have you read match point?
    sugandha recently posted…Book Review – To kill a mocking birdMy Profile

  • sugandha
    March 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    You have picked up my book. I am a fan of Lionel Shriver and particularly of this book. It goes in my top 5 too. Have you read match point?
    sugandha recently posted…Book Review – To kill a mocking birdMy Profile

  • Pinky Poinker
    March 5, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I read this book a couple of years ago and savored every word of the eloquent prose. The story was disturbing and haunted me for a long time. How lucky you are to have met her.
    Pinky Poinker recently posted…Why Teachers Deserve OscarsMy Profile

  • Pinky Poinker
    March 5, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I read this book a couple of years ago and savored every word of the eloquent prose. The story was disturbing and haunted me for a long time. How lucky you are to have met her.
    Pinky Poinker recently posted…Why Teachers Deserve OscarsMy Profile

  • Bhavya
    March 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I’ve heard her name previously too and have been meaning to pick up a book ever since, but never got a chance to.
    Bhavya recently posted…Love’s Labor ~ Book ReviewMy Profile

  • Bhavya
    March 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I’ve heard her name previously too and have been meaning to pick up a book ever since, but never got a chance to.
    Bhavya recently posted…Love’s Labor ~ Book ReviewMy Profile

  • Shilpa Garg
    March 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I have read rave reviews about ‘We need to talk about Kevin’, in fact it is there in my Flipkart wishlist too… must definitely buy this first thing. How awesome is that you met the author and got to discuss about your real life cases too. Thanks for sharing, PB 🙂
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…Prisoner Jailor Prime Minister by Tabrik CMy Profile

  • Shilpa Garg
    March 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I have read rave reviews about ‘We need to talk about Kevin’, in fact it is there in my Flipkart wishlist too… must definitely buy this first thing. How awesome is that you met the author and got to discuss about your real life cases too. Thanks for sharing, PB 🙂
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…Prisoner Jailor Prime Minister by Tabrik CMy Profile

  • Sreeja Praveen
    March 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Well, that was a nice review , to put in simply. I love the way you’ve spoken about your interaction with the writer himself. I haven’t tried this book yet, or any of Lionel Shriver for that matter, so off this goes to my ‘to try’ list 🙂
    Sreeja Praveen recently posted…Loving the Sir !My Profile

  • Sreeja Praveen
    March 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Well, that was a nice review , to put in simply. I love the way you’ve spoken about your interaction with the writer himself. I haven’t tried this book yet, or any of Lionel Shriver for that matter, so off this goes to my ‘to try’ list 🙂
    Sreeja Praveen recently posted…Loving the Sir !My Profile

  • usha menon
    March 5, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I read this book recently.After reading the review I feel like reading it again.
    usha menon recently posted…What teachers make a reviewMy Profile

  • usha menon
    March 5, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I read this book recently.After reading the review I feel like reading it again.
    usha menon recently posted…What teachers make a reviewMy Profile

  • Richa Singh
    March 5, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    What I liked about your review the best was that you added your views on the author herself (when you met her) they show the impact this book must have had on you and of course a bit about your observant instincts. This one is I believe reopening the classic sigmend freud debate on parents the genesis of our behavior pattern…
    Richa Singh recently posted…The Wind-up Bird Chronicle By Haruki Murakami – A reviewMy Profile

  • Richa Singh
    March 5, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    What I liked about your review the best was that you added your views on the author herself (when you met her) they show the impact this book must have had on you and of course a bit about your observant instincts. This one is I believe reopening the classic sigmend freud debate on parents the genesis of our behavior pattern…
    Richa Singh recently posted…The Wind-up Bird Chronicle By Haruki Murakami – A reviewMy Profile

  • Kalpana Solsi
    March 5, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I haven’t heard of Lionel Shriver or her book , ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ . Kevin ‘s massacre of 7 children, a teacher and a canteen workers sends chills down the spine . But the analysis behind this gruesome act is far more necessary and important rather than labelling him a killer is unjust. This book seems to be interesting.
    Kalpana Solsi recently posted…The day I stopped drinking milk………………..My Profile

  • Kalpana Solsi
    March 5, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I haven’t heard of Lionel Shriver or her book , ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ . Kevin ‘s massacre of 7 children, a teacher and a canteen workers sends chills down the spine . But the analysis behind this gruesome act is far more necessary and important rather than labelling him a killer is unjust. This book seems to be interesting.
    Kalpana Solsi recently posted…The day I stopped drinking milk………………..My Profile

  • Roshan R
    March 5, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    if im not wrong, this is also a critically acclaimed movie now..
    Roshan R recently posted…Book Review : The Night Shift by Stephen KingMy Profile

    • that cynking feeling
      March 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Yes, they did make this into a film. I haven’t seen the movie and was unaware that it was based on a book. I think I’d much rather read the story, so thanks for sharing this review.
      that cynking feeling recently posted…“A trait we could all aspire to”My Profile

  • Roshan R
    March 5, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    if im not wrong, this is also a critically acclaimed movie now..
    Roshan R recently posted…Book Review : The Night Shift by Stephen KingMy Profile

    • that cynking feeling
      March 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Yes, they did make this into a film. I haven’t seen the movie and was unaware that it was based on a book. I think I’d much rather read the story, so thanks for sharing this review.
      that cynking feeling recently posted…“A trait we could all aspire to”My Profile

  • Jyotsna Bhatia
    March 5, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    This sounds like a good read.. Considering you have read it three times, this acts as some serious recommendation !!
    Jyotsna Bhatia recently posted…The Palace of Illusions – ReviewMy Profile

  • Jyotsna Bhatia
    March 5, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    This sounds like a good read.. Considering you have read it three times, this acts as some serious recommendation !!
    Jyotsna Bhatia recently posted…The Palace of Illusions – ReviewMy Profile

  • Michelle Liew
    March 6, 2014 at 12:24 am

    A good dose of realism….my kind of book!

  • Michelle Liew
    March 6, 2014 at 12:24 am

    A good dose of realism….my kind of book!

  • jaishvats
    March 6, 2014 at 12:48 am

    I somehow don’t read books which I think may haunt me for many days. I know I am restricting myself but there are some books that I avoid. Must get over this and expand the genres that I explore. Nice review
    jaishvats recently posted…Book Review: Bombay Rains Bombay GirlsMy Profile

  • jaishvats
    March 6, 2014 at 12:48 am

    I somehow don’t read books which I think may haunt me for many days. I know I am restricting myself but there are some books that I avoid. Must get over this and expand the genres that I explore. Nice review
    jaishvats recently posted…Book Review: Bombay Rains Bombay GirlsMy Profile

  • Titaxy
    March 6, 2014 at 12:56 am

    I have never met any author PB. would love to, someday.
    I have this book on my shelf somewhere, I think. Time to dust it out and read it.
    Titaxy recently posted…Silver LiningMy Profile

  • Titaxy
    March 6, 2014 at 12:56 am

    I have never met any author PB. would love to, someday.
    I have this book on my shelf somewhere, I think. Time to dust it out and read it.
    Titaxy recently posted…Silver LiningMy Profile

  • Leo
    March 6, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Babs, this sounds a promising read, and I’ve already added it to my wishlists. It’s a tad high priced presently on online stores 🙁 I’ll keep an eye out when I go to Bookworm too. Thanks for the thoughts.

  • Leo
    March 6, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Babs, this sounds a promising read, and I’ve already added it to my wishlists. It’s a tad high priced presently on online stores 🙁 I’ll keep an eye out when I go to Bookworm too. Thanks for the thoughts.

  • dreamzandclouds
    March 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Wow! This one sounds like an interesting book. I love books written in the form of letters ….am off to add it it tom my TBR right away!
    dreamzandclouds recently posted…WWW Wednesday Vol. 17My Profile

  • dreamzandclouds
    March 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Wow! This one sounds like an interesting book. I love books written in the form of letters ….am off to add it it tom my TBR right away!
    dreamzandclouds recently posted…WWW Wednesday Vol. 17My Profile

  • vishalbheeroo
    March 7, 2014 at 3:50 am

    That’s quite a read and thrilling. I feel emotional balance is very important during upbringing, though I am not a parent nor married. But, it seems to throw interesting questions and fiction sometimes contain answers within questions:)
    vishalbheeroo recently posted…Festival of Words 3-Day 4-Book Review ‘The Unsent Life’My Profile

  • vishalbheeroo
    March 7, 2014 at 3:50 am

    That’s quite a read and thrilling. I feel emotional balance is very important during upbringing, though I am not a parent nor married. But, it seems to throw interesting questions and fiction sometimes contain answers within questions:)
    vishalbheeroo recently posted…Festival of Words 3-Day 4-Book Review ‘The Unsent Life’My Profile

  • chattywren
    March 8, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Sounds like a very interesting book, by Lionel Shriver, I will definitely pick it up.

  • chattywren
    March 8, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Sounds like a very interesting book, by Lionel Shriver, I will definitely pick it up.

  • Michelle Liew
    March 9, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Much has been done, and there is still more to do. Well said, and a happy IWD!

  • Michelle Liew
    March 9, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Much has been done, and there is still more to do. Well said, and a happy IWD!

  • Gearing for May » A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose!
    April 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    […] Need to Talk About Kevin has been on my wish list for a long time and when last month, Psych Babbler wrote about meeting the author where she shared some insights about this book, I immediately pushed […]

  • Gearing for May » A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose!
    April 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    […] Need to Talk About Kevin has been on my wish list for a long time and when last month, Psych Babbler wrote about meeting the author where she shared some insights about this book, I immediately pushed […]

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