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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

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

Overall

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • aaron
  • los angeles, CA, United States
  • 01-09-12

A smart, chilling story. Told in a very unique way

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!

32 of 33 people found this review helpful

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  • Anne
  • Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
  • 01-02-12

Complex and Tragic Pseudo-autobiography

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.



26 of 27 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MJ
  • DELAND, FL, United States
  • 12-30-11

A Novel Worth Talking About

If you could sum up We Need to Talk About Kevin in three words, what would they be?

Chilling, engrossing, real.

What was one of the most memorable moments of We Need to Talk About Kevin?

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.

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

It has to be Eva, the narrator. Marlo's characterization never faltered--pitch-perfect throughout.

If you could take any character from We Need to Talk About Kevin out to dinner, who would it be and why?

I'd take Kevin, for all the same reasons Eva took him to dinner.

Any additional comments?

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.

28 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • anne
  • RICHMOND, CA, United States
  • 02-06-12

Best book I read [listened to] all year

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.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Kelley
  • Bluemlont, VA, United States
  • 02-04-12

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!

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Julia
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 02-13-12

Alarming, yet hard to put down

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.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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great but...

by the end of this book I was glad that I had read it. However, it is very hard to get into. The first maybe 2 hours or so glaringly boring I almost put it down multiple times. stick with it

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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We DO need to talk about Kevin!

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Could not put it down

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

What other book might you compare We Need to Talk About Kevin to and why?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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WHEN SHOULD THEY TALK ABOUT KEVIN?


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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful