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)
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
It took me a while to get used to the fact that this story was being told through letters, which the mother had written. At first I thought, "How could this possibly work?" But, it does. By the end, it all comes together as to why the story is being told through letters. It kept my attention the whole time. If you want a chilling, psychological disections of a family "blessed" with a psychopath for a son, then you'll LOVE this book.
Narrarator was excellent. I'm sure I'm not the first person on here to say this, but I now have ZERO desire to see this as a movie. There's no way it could live up to the book. Very well done!
Probably one of the most cleverly-written books I have ever read. The author weaves a tapestry so fine that the reader becomes more an observer who can't help identifying with the protagonist or questioning her actions, lack of action, and reactions.
The exploration of family dynamics is brilliant and resonates
The story explores the frustrations of having a reasonably bright but completely puzzling child - one with enough differences to cause concern - but the perception is not shared by his father, which naturally leads the mother to question her own observations.
In a series of letters to her husband, the description of life with her family is laid bare - leading the reader through a series of events which collectively point to disaster. The problems appears to be ones which the family can not solve because they are not so serious that they could be attributed to a major defect in the son.
Apart from the background of the mother who, in this book, is extremely literate and her 'tone', initially, somewhat condescending, the reader soon realizes that this 'tone' is perhaps more defensive than otherwise. This tale could (and does) occur in far too many families - perhaps it may save some.
An amazing story which is entirely plausible.
Retired pediatric RN, voracious reader, mom to 17 year old son, occasional writer of fan fiction.
Chilling, engrossing, real.
There were so many exquisitely detailed moments that--forced to pick just one--I'm going to cheat a bit and choose a recurring theme, that of Eva revisiting again and again the birth of her son, and the emotions it did and did not stir in her. But there are many other situations in this story equally as memorable.
It has to be Eva, the narrator. Marlo's characterization never faltered--pitch-perfect throughout.
I'd take Kevin, for all the same reasons Eva took him to dinner.
A compelling listen, one I'll listen to again at least once, and probably more. So richly textured that I'm not certain they'll be able to do it justice with a two hour movie.
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.
Highly recommended, it was riveting. I was so frustrated at the writer for creating a protagonist character who used too many big words until I realize that her character was multilayered and who WAS in fact, not faultless and very very pretentious, a question she asks herself then dismisses as simply being 'curious and intelligent and worldly'. The tension created in being drawn to the mother's corner only to turn around and question how likable she really is was one of the things I found so fascinating. The characters were so multilayered here and felt as true to life as most people are flawed.
This will sound very gender biased but I was amazed that this was written by a man. The complicated and often conflicting emotions a mother goes through raising a very difficult and angry child were so precise. I say this because universally it's an absolute taboo for a mother to feel anything but love and adoration for her child. It may not be openly stated, but it's far more acceptable for fathers to feel ambivalent toward a child. I can not wait for the movie to come to town.
If only Shriver had read Doris Lessing's The Fifth Child and realized that any other version of this same story had to be kept to a short story (in The New Yorker?).
It might be a good movie (which is, essentially, the length of a New Yorker short story), but this was just ENDLESS. By the end, I was just disappointed Kevin didn't also kill his mom and spare us her narrative.
One of the most captivating books I've engaged in in a long time. Amazing vocabulary, vivid story, wonderful performance.
Elderly (1932), retired university professor, degrees in engineering and economics.
The subjects explored by Lionel Shriver are formidable. Multiple murders in children’s schools are overwhelming tragedies that leave parents, communities and the larger societies grasping for answers to WHY. Shriver writes about that subject, but then takes on a truly sacred cow: Is there a universal bond or tie between every baby and mother? This relationship is explored in the context of being part of the answer to the WHY question.
She uses a format of letters written by Kevin’s mother to his father while Kevin is in jail. His mother looks back over the family history before and after Kevin was born, trying to learn if and how their relationships may have caused his abnormal behavior during his younger years and his final rampage.
The writing is clear and direct. She treats the subject with sensitivity and compassion, but without sugar coating. It should be read (listened to) with an open mind, if possible. Maybe we need to examine some of the truths that we take for granted.
I will never forget this book. Ever. I had no idea what I was getting into other than a story of a mother struggling to come to grips with her son becoming a murderer, but I was horrified, enthralled, totally sucked in even though it was psychologically painful and surprising and long. I struggled to turn it on after a difficult day, because it took something from me each time, but I could never stay away for long. I don't think this is the story of every high school shooter, but I do think it's a compelling story of one fictional boy who is disturbed beyond belief, with an exceptional writer to tell it thoroughly, engagingly. Plus, the reader was totally in character and pitch-perfect from start to finish. Toward the end, I was obsessed with finishing it—listened voraciously—like I would gulp down shots trying to finish the bottle regardless of the consequences, the hangover after. I feel the hangover of finishing this. And it was worth it.
The author kept me intrigued because it was coming from the point of view of the mother of a killer. It takes you from the birth of her child to a sad and gripping climactic ending through her letter writings. Throughout the book you feel the bond or love? of a mother. It seems that Kevin's mother was the only person that he related to..... in the end. I think all mothers will be able to understand and appreciate this bond.
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