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We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel | [Lionel Shriver]

We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel

Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of a boy who ends up murdering seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his 16th birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage, in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin.
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Publisher's Summary

Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of a boy who ends up murdering seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his 16th birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage, in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

©2003 Lionel Shriver (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers

What the Critics Say

“Shriver handles this material, with its potential for cheap sentiment and soap opera plot, with rare skill and sense.” (Newark Star Ledger)

“A slow, magnetic descent into hell that is as fascinating as it is disturbing.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“Powerful [and] harrowing.” (Entertainment Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (669 )
5 star
 (356)
4 star
 (180)
3 star
 (71)
2 star
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 (34)
Overall
4.2 (570 )
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Story
4.2 (570 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (51)
2 star
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1 star
 (27)
Performance
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  •  
    Sarah Malvern, PA, United States 02-08-12
    Sarah Malvern, PA, United States 02-08-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"
    Any additional comments?

    Lionel Shriver's word choices were unique and communicative. This story is tragic and moving and beautifully written. I was pleased with how the story came together at the end. Well done.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelley Bluemlont, VA, United States 02-04-12
    Kelley Bluemlont, VA, United States 02-04-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    0
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    Story
    "Stick with it"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    After the first hour or so, i had just about given up on this one, but i'm glad i didn't! I saw the other good reviews and thought it must get better and better it did get! An exciting story of a mother and her son. Is it nature or nurture that develops children's personalities? Stick with it!


    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katya A new york 03-26-13
    Katya A new york 03-26-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    67
    ratings
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    52
    30
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    19
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    Story
    "like a ton of bricks"

    It took me few months to finish this book. Listening to it was like a picking scabs from an infected wound and pulling them off slowly. Wrapped in engaging plot and beautiful writing, author is presenting readers with chilling and incredibly disturbing story of a mother who is trying to come to terms with horrific acts perpetrated by her son.

    Shriver writes about subject that society is very carefully avoiding - how do you love you child who is a monster? What do you do if you helpless to change anything? Who do you blame? Can you go on?

    Coleen Marlo did a great job enhancing emotion of the novel. Pouring her soul out, Eva is still very educated woman and narrator maintains a balance between raw emotion and upper-class self-discipline very well, her Eva is very believable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Atascadero, CA, United States 10-02-12
    Rachel Atascadero, CA, United States 10-02-12 Member Since 2015

    I own a small shop selling custom/costume Jewelry. I love to listen to audio books while I create jewelry. I love all animals and get very upset when they aren't treated well, even in fiction.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    116
    ratings
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    5
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    "Thought Provoking"

    Good reader. The story line was excellent.
    I do wish the author had left out the animal abuse, the book would have been better with out it.
    The mixture of fact and fiction was flawless.
    I would NOT recommend this book to any pregnant woman---not joking!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bette HURLOCK, MD, United States 09-03-12
    Bette HURLOCK, MD, United States 09-03-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
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    6
    4
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    Story
    "This book will stay with you!"

    A very interesting way to tell a story, and the narrator does a fantastic job. This is a very disturbing tale about a family gone terribly wrong. All told from the mother's perspective in the form of letters to the father, it gets more and more addictive the further it gets along. Part cautionary tale and part mystery, the story of Kevin is heartbreaking and chilling. I couldn't get my mind off this book days after I finished listening! I watched the movie a couple of days after and I believe they did a very good job at telling the story; like another reviewer, I would recommend reading/listening first and then watching the film.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy Roosevelt, UT, United States 08-27-12
    Tracy Roosevelt, UT, United States 08-27-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    27
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    0
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    "WOW"
    If you could sum up We Need to Talk About Kevin in three words, what would they be?

    Never forget this.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The mother - because of how she tried to handle things and how she adapted and never stopped trying.


    Who was the most memorable character of We Need to Talk About Kevin and why?

    The Mother was most memorable. because of how she tried to handle things and how she adapted and never stopped trying.


    Any additional comments?

    All i have to say is - i will NEVER forget this book. I have recomended to many people.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosemarie Treece Camas, WA United States 08-13-12
    Rosemarie Treece Camas, WA United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    92
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    "Controversial subject, excellent treatment"

    I loved this book, if one can say loved about a story told strictly from the viewpoint of a tragic yet sometimes unsympathetic character such as Eva, the mother of Kevin. I wish I had listened to the book prior to seeing the movie; the twists of plot would have been that much more unexpected. However, I was thrilled to learn there was a book behind the movie that so disturbed me that I could not put it out of my mind; it continued to roil and simmer alternatively. I highly recommend the audiobook; the narration was excellent. After you have digested this multidimensional work, definitely rent the movie and enjoy the tour-de-force that is Tilda Swinton as Eva. I look forward to exploring additional works by Lionel Shriver, a most perceptive and courageous writer to have undertaken a story such as this.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Wormley So. California 07-23-12
    A. Wormley So. California 07-23-12 Member Since 2014

    Nic's Mom

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Suppose to be believable"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I just did not believe this story. I realize the concept of a school shooting and the motives behind such deplorable behavior are suppose to be unfathomable, but I just could not get behind it. I listened to the whole nearly 16 hours and found the story interesting and horrific, but somewhat shock for shock value. I do not want to give away too much less I spoil the obvious ending for other. I was clearly listening to a story that was suppose to be about real issues, and real people (many actual events are quoted amongst the occurrences in this book in order to verify it as factual) but from the beginning I was more than aware that I was reading fiction designed to ignite a gut reaction from me.


    Would you recommend We Need to Talk About Kevin to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would recommend this to my Jodi Piccoult reading friends. It is about that level of emotional fiction. (I love her, no judgement).


    Which character – as performed by Coleen Marlo – was your favorite?

    I hated all the characters in this book, but it was designed to invoke such vial disdain. I especially hated the father for his dismissive behavior and his mother for her reckless optimisms and futile retrospect.


    Could you see We Need to Talk About Kevin being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    I hear it is a movie. I guess I would see it if I need a good cry.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 05-28-12
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 05-28-12 Member Since 2010

    Audio-addict!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1558
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    "Disturbing and painful, but beautifully written"

    I listened to this book a few months ago. It stuck with me like no other book has in years. This is the story of a family; beginning with a loving couple, ending with a nightmare. This book is not about school shootings, it's not that simple. What it does ask us to think about is the reason for and existence of evil in the mind and withered heart of a child gone wrong. Can a child just be born different, and bad to the soul? Or can a mother be so resentful of giving up her independence and harbor so much animosity towards her child that it breaks him?

    I also watched this movie just this week. While very different from the book, it is also very good. I would recommend reading this book, then watching the movie a few days/ weeks later.

    I felt like the movie helped me to make peace with the book. I highly recommend this to anyone who interested in edgy, real life books that make you think, and feel grateful for what you have.

    While this is all very depressing, I can't find anything wrong with the book to give it less than the full score it deserves. Though, I admit it left me so sad and even anxious for a long time. The style of the writing is incredibly effective. The mother writes her story in letters to her husband. It's hard to put down. Very enthralling audiobook. It also adds an element of suspicion about whether the mother is telling the truth or her idea of truth.

    It does resolve in the end leaving you without doubt as to the sanity of mother and child.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Courtney Tucker, GA, United States 06-22-12
    Courtney Tucker, GA, United States 06-22-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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    33
    12
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    3
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    "We Need to Talk and Talk and Talk About Kevin"

    The basic premise of this book is interesting and well explored but the way the author chose to write the story is very constricting. First 2/3 are plodding with a few surprises thrown in and the last third of the book is riveting payoff.
    I feel that this would have made for a better short story (using the chosen literary device) rather than a novel. My kingdom for a good editor!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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