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
“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)
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.
Love TrueCrime! Most other non-fic, sports, TrueCrime,family/love stories, scary fiction, TrueCrime, Stevie King, TrueCrime, & TrueCrime!
First off let me say that Ms. Marlo's performance was the best I've heard from a narrator since I've been listening to books. She was perfect. I don't use that term often either! Listen and you will see. She had the same energy/tone/personality in the final sentence as she had in the opening one. She WAS this boy's Mother! I felt the beginning was a bit slow, but as usual, necessary. I found myself in the middle of the book wanting to go find this little bastard myself and wring his neck! Actually, that feeling never really subsided... This tale was wonderfully told, and it left me with that desired feeling of wanting to look further into Lionel Shriver's other works. Has me recommending it to other Audible listeners I know and don't personally know with this review. And finally, it has me telling those I know that don't read all about it. What more could I have asked for with my one measly credit?!. If you're interested in this book enough to be reading my review I'm willing to bet you're going to enjoy it. Just hit "confirm" and ready yourself to start looking at every other little kid sideways! Lol.
I haven't read a book done this well in a while. From the plot, the descriptive language, the ending, I am amazed. After reading, I feel the way I felt as a kid watching Michael Jordan. I will never be able to duplicate the control demonstrated in this writing and while that makes me sad in some ways, I am euphoric that writing of this caliber is still around. Highly recommended!
Yes, this book was the most captivating I have listened to on Audble. So many twists and turns that I was finding myself wanting to listen for just ten more minutes each time.
This book is definitely a thriller- I would compare it to House of Sand and Fog. You know the approximate ending but not how you get there.
The scene where Eva admits how she finally got Kevin to start using the toilet. I can feel her desperation and horror at her own behavior.
Yes and no, I always wanted to listen to a little more. But on the other hand, there are so many scenes and revelations that I had to digest that sometime I just took a little time to think about the book before moving on.
I would not want to listen to this book again, but only because it is an incredibly sad and disturbing book. With that said, I do not regret the purchase! I recommend listening to the book and then following up by watching the film starring Tilda Swinton. The side-by-side reveals a great deal about the American culture of violence. I tore through this audio book and wanted to talk about it with everyone I know.
This book was similar to Gone Girl. It's a thriller that relies heavily on the differing points of views of the main characters. Like with Gone Girl, the reader has to continuously question what is real and who is telling the truth.
The entire story is told from the mother's point of view. She is not a typically endearing protagonist. I think the voice performance was truly fantastic. I felt deeply connected to the character throughout the audiobook.
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.
Oh, I've been waiting to write this review. This book grabbed hold of me and did not let go until the very end. I could write an essay about some of the subtleties in the characters here; perhaps even a book, but I'll stick to some of the basics.
Kevin is not a happy child. From the beginning, he seems to resent not only his distant mother and overweening father, but life in general. As Shriver shows us the progression of Kevin's life in tandem with a growing understanding of his mother, Eva, the parallels between the two become ever clearer. The two enter into a war of sorts, a battle of strong wills for not only Kevin's destiny but the destiny of the family itself. Kevin's escalating, increasingly unspeakable acts provide the impetus that drives the story forward, but the plot is almost incidental to this book. I stress almost, because a sole judgment of the plot misses the elements that make this book so extraordinary.
It's all about theme and character. Yes, the central question of this book seems to be about whether a killer is born or created, ultimately demurring on the answer itself, but such a facile analysis misses the layers of complexity that Shriver weaves in attempting to answer that question. More than once Shriver intimates that Eva and her son are not so dissimilar; the key to understanding this is in a passage where Eva states that women internalize their rage while men visit it upon the world. Eva is an angry, rage-filled woman with a fury very much the equal of her son's fury, she just expresses it in a different manner, though sometimes we see the equal of Kevin's expressions, such as when she rails against the mundane qualities of everyday life.
Kevin's father Franklin is an ineffectual man who lives in a constant haze of denial. It becomes clear that he attempts to plaster the world's disappointments and flaws over with rose-colored cellophane, seeing everything - save for his wife's increasing fear of and frustration with their son - as benign. It's little wonder that Kevin's fury toward him is even stronger than his anger toward his mother. He doesn't even hide that rage particularly well, but his father misses the insincerity time and time again, until it's too late.
The theme here is a child who may have been born damaged in some emotional capacity but who never receives the attention that he may have needed to overcome that issue. Both parents were far too focused on their own needs, projecting their wants and insecurities onto the damaged child. Make no mistake, though, that Kevin is also a monster, and the only true innocent in this whole Greek tragedy is the daughter Celia, who ends up getting far worse than she ever deserved.
I hated just about all of the characters on some primal level, but I couldn't look away. The whole thing formed such a perfect storm of dysfunctional family dynamics and maladaptive psychology that it's hard to imagine it ending in any other way. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Putting aside the potentially disturbing aspects of this story in relation to recent events, I would absolutely recommend it, especially in the audio format.The plot, which tracks the growth and development of a deeply flawed (sociopathic?) child from birth through high school, is unique, not alone for the fact we see it all through the eyes of a mother who somehow manages to see her own son for exactly what he is.One wonders how any mother could survive this insight. The desperate need to understand drives the reader through the book along with her, as she and her son hurtle towards an inevitable conclusion.The unique energy of the book is that like the reader, Eva seems quite aware that tragedy awaits, although she does not no how, or precisely why. The need to find out drives reader and narrator inexorably forward.It is a story that calls out to you when you are forced to put it down even for a few hours.As a result, I listened to all 14+ hours (more with some inevitable backtracking) in well under a week. Add to that one of the best performances I've heard on Audible, and I would consider it a "must listen!"
In it's biting prose, it easily outstrips Augusten Burroughs' "Running With Scissors" or Donna Williams' "Somebody Somewhere." In it's emotional impact, it compares favorably with Dave Pelzer's "A Child Called It."If it seems strange that the only books I could compare it to are actual biographies of children with emotional and/or psychological problems, that is exactly my point.The combination of the unique narrative style, the depth and realism of the story and the world-class reading of Ms. Marlo combine to put this book light years ahead of everything Jodi Picault has written, most especially "House Rules." The similarity in subject matter is striking, and yet the two books are worlds apart.
I have not listened to Ms. Marlo, but I have every intention of mining her other performances. I found her to be absolutely on par with the best that Audible has to offer.
The unfortunate truth is that as a mental health professional, I have done the equivalent of taking Kevin out to dinner many times.I find the character of Eva spellbinding and unique, and I would certainly enjoy continuing the "dialogue" of the book further with her.
To return again to the issue of current events: I would say that if you were emotionally impacted by the current events regarding school shootings in the news, I would suggest putting off this book a while.
By virtue of it's incredible depth and clarity, it has the potential to -greatly- magnify any emotional reactions you have had to real-world tragedy. I stand by my assessment of the book on its own merits, but I feel compelled to add that this week, in the wake of a real life tragedy, there were parts that had me in tears - not only for the shock of these fictional but all-too-real events, but also by virtue of the incredible emotional quality of Ms. Marlo's performance.
I have to confess that I am only part way through this novel, but I was so intrigued by this book that I went to my library site, in order to read author's notes and published reviews. The author is actually Margaret Ann Shriver, (she simply prefers the use of the name Lionel). As was noted by another reviewer, it seems improbable that a man could have so acutely voiced what it is like to give birth, and the ambivalent emotions that so often entail and follow the experience. A highly recommended novel. The narrator is spot on, and once I have finished the book, my next task will be to watch the movie. I remember that the movie was quite well reviewed, but I find it hard to believe that it could be better than the book. Of course, for me I find that a novel is almost always enhanced by its narration. The nuances of character and plot are fleshed out by its narrator, and this book is a case in point.
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.
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!
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