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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 (695 )
5 star
 (372)
4 star
 (185)
3 star
 (75)
2 star
 (29)
1 star
 (34)
Overall
4.2 (594 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
 (16)
1 star
 (33)
Story
4.2 (592 )
5 star
 (323)
4 star
 (166)
3 star
 (53)
2 star
 (22)
1 star
 (28)
Performance
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  •  
    Kindle Customer 10-24-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    55
    5
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    Story
    "I just can't do it!"
    What would have made We Need to Talk About Kevin better?

    I have tried three times to listen to this book - I am about four hours in and I just cant do it. This is about the 30th book I have listened to this year and the first one I have ever not finished. I find the writing pretensions, arrogant and annoying. Maybe this is the intention, if so it is done so expertly that it has resulted in me being unable to listen to another word! I am normally a pretty generous reviewer - not a picky reader.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helaine Chevy Chase, MD, United States 09-08-12
    Helaine Chevy Chase, MD, United States 09-08-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    53
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "Worst Narrator"
    What disappointed you about We Need to Talk About Kevin?

    This is a beautifully written, haunting story, but the narrator ruins it. She does not fit the character at all. As I listened to the book, I kept having to imagine the words in someone else's voice. In the middle, I abandoned it altogether and borrowed a copy of the book from a friend to finish it on paper. A big disappointment overall.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monica 09-03-12
    Monica 09-03-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    4
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    Story
    "Very engaging"
    What made the experience of listening to We Need to Talk About Kevin the most enjoyable?

    The book was extremely engaging and well written. The format of being written as a series of letters kept the suspense going. The main character had a lot of complexity and was not always likable, but she evolved during the course of the book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen del mar, CA, United States 08-13-12
    Kathleen del mar, CA, United States 08-13-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    7
    4
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting story but very long."
    Any additional comments?

    Wonderful speaker. The beginning is vey interesting. I wish the problem with Kevin had been revealed a little earlier. It does seem to go on and on and on. While I can appreciate all this mother has had to go through I am getting a bit bored.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katrina florida 07-26-12
    Katrina florida 07-26-12 Member Since 2011

    katrina

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
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    0
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    Story
    "I just had to keep listening"

    The premise of the book sounds like so many headlines we've seen, but no, its so unpredictable. Well written, suspenseful and well thought out. You're just shaken at the end. The whole time I thought I knew what would happen in the end but wow, what a twist. You will not be able to stop listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 07-18-12
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 07-18-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    83
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    162
    159
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unsure About this One"

    I chose this book based on strong recommendations from others. However, this book took me awhile to get into, and it was not at all what I expected. I expected the book to focus more on the crime itself, rather than the mother's feelings about her marriage, life and child. It kept me interested enough to continue and the ending was very good. I'm glad I stuck with it, but I can't say that I enjoyed it as much as the majority of readers seemed to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NightowlKnitter Maryland, USA 05-16-12
    NightowlKnitter Maryland, USA 05-16-12 Member Since 2008

    NightowlKnitter

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Couldn't stop, even when I wanted to"

    A quiet horror engulfs the reader as the plot matures. Even though you can see the basic story unfolding nearly from the beginning, there are twists that keep you listening to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Porche Chicago, IL 01-29-12
    P. Porche Chicago, IL 01-29-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    3
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    0
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    Story
    "For Every Person Who Knows a Kevin"

    This is a chilling story about what happens went parent(s) refuse to see their child as he really is. From the beginning Kevin is troubled; Eva's sees it, but Franklin refuses and that fuels Kevin's desires to torture his mother. I really enjoyed the epistolary format of this novel. That made Eva's story even more personal and made the reader feel as though she's reading very private correspondence.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    margaret 01-10-12
    margaret 01-10-12

    gentle reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    109
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Boring"

    I was so disappointed because this story had great potential. Unfortunately, there is no story, just the character of the mother droning on incessantly. I listened for the first 2 hours and literally nothing happened. There is no action, no plot development, no narrative drive. It was excruciating. No to be fair, I turned it off after 2 hours so maybe it got way better at the end, I can't say.

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evelyn 05-30-12
    Evelyn 05-30-12

    Dweenaleena

    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    9
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    1
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    "No up side"

    Insufferably smug narrator. Intolerably pretentious writing style - like going to a minor hell where you're forced to hear the inner thoughts of someone who isn't very interesting. Telling, telling, and not showing. God. Somebody just shoot me now. Why did I download this thing?

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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