book review: we need to talk about kevin by lionel shriver

I have always had a fascination with school shootings. Not in a weird way, I just don’t understand the psychology behind it. I’m curious about what goes through someone’s mind when they make the choice to not only purchase a gun, but take the gun to school with the intention of shooting. I also wonder how many kids have taken guns to school but haven’t taken them out of their bags.

I soak up books and documentaries on school shootings in an attempt to try and see what goes on inside the mind of the shooter. For years, I have heard about ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver and for years, for whatever reason, I just kept not buying it. I was given it last Christmas and after reading it, I can’t believe it took me so long.

WNTTAK was written in the monologic epistolary form (which consists of letters) from the perspective of Eva Khatchadourian. Eva is the mother of Kevin, a child who is the perpetrator of a school shooting in which he killed fellow classmates, a teacher and a cafeteria worker. WNTTAK consists of letters that Eva writes to her estranged husband, Franklin, in an attempt to come to terms with what has happened.

WNTTAK shows Eva going back through all of her memories of Kevin as a child as she studies his behaviour to see where it all went wrong. Eva always felt that Kevin was different to other children and had the feeling that Kevin would purposely do things to hurt her. When she would try to express her fears to Franklin, he would tell her that she was overreacting and always assumed the worst when it came to Kevin.

These accusations led Eva to wonder if by always assuming the worst, she had driven him to his crime. These letters in the form of WNTTAK are enthralling. I could not stop reading and it was one of those books that I couldn’t get out of my mind. I couldn’t stop talking about it while I was reading it to the point that my sister said to me “I feel like I’m reading this book because you keep talking about it”.

It’s haunting portrayal of a woman trying to come to terms with the fact that her son is responsible for the deaths of others. A chilling read. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.


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