I knew it wouldn’t be “light reading” given that the subject of a school massacre is central to the plot, but I didn’t quite expect the deep despair that permeates this book. I would read 20 pages and simply have to put it down. Passages like…
In truth we are bigger, greedier versions of the same eating, shitting, rutting ruck, hell-bent on disguising from somebody, if only from a three-year-old, that pretty much all we do is eat and shit and rut. The secret is there is no secret. that is what we really wish to keep from our kids, and it’s suppression is the true collusion of adulthood…”
…may contain some true grain of truth, but I just didn’t want to be stuck there with Shriver.
When it comes down to it, Kevin’s actions and his mother’s reactions struck a real chord of fear in me. Of course I’m afraid one of my sons might do “something unforgivable.” It’s my worst nightmare. So to read about that, was discomforting.
I had trouble empathizing…
Kevin’s mother Eva tells the entire story through a series of letters to her husband, Kevin’s father. These letters take the tone of confession, but I couldn’t bring myself to like Eva. She hates her son and I just can’t find a place in my mind or heart for that .
“…You can only subject people to anguish who have a conscience. You can only punish people who have hopes to frustrate or attachments to sever; who worry what you think of them. You can really only punish people who are already a little bit good.”
I also wanted to feel empathy for Kevin despite his deeds, but the epistolary style only allows us t know him through his mother’s eyes.
Suddenly 200 pages into the book, I was hooked. I wanted, maybe needed, to understand the factors involved and the (gruesome) details of the massacre itself. I won’t try and convince you that it gets and brighter, but I did develop some sympathy for Eva. In a million years, with all the confessions and everything I knew, I still didn’t see the end coming. That is a wholly satisfying feeling when I read.
“Liked” is not the right word to describe my reaction to the book since it left me feeling sick with horror and fear, but it deserves my four star rating. It’s a book I’ll never forget.
- We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (book and movie thoughts) (bookjourney.wordpress.com)