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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

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    709
  • 4 Stars
    352
  • 3 Stars
    141
  • 2 Stars
    48
  • 1 Stars
    47

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    644
  • 4 Stars
    306
  • 3 Stars
    112
  • 2 Stars
    38
  • 1 Stars
    40

Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    647
  • 4 Stars
    293
  • 3 Stars
    122
  • 2 Stars
    32
  • 1 Stars
    50
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Dark

I was interested in this book, having lived a few miles from Columbine with a son about the same age as the perpetrators of the crimes committed. I always felt kind of sorry for the parents of those boys; they lost their sons and shouldered a lot of blame for what happened. There had to be targets for all the outrage over the incident, the little thugs had killed themselves, so anyone associated with them had to pay. I guess I didn't expect this book to be about a kid born evil, a concept I have a hard time believing. The dad was portrayed as a big dope, the mother a whiner. I guess I was hoping that the characters would be more complicated and the story not so predictable. This book is dark, hopeless and sad, I gave it three stars because it managed to be interesting enough to finish.

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got better.

I didn't love it at first but several good twists and I was glad I finished it.

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Narrater brings you connection to the story.

What made the experience of listening to We Need to Talk About Kevin the most enjoyable?

The narrator made a very "wordy" book more enjoyable. The mother, who tells the story, is very self-involved and elaborate. The narrator brought more life to what was a difficult read for me. I enjoyed the story but listening made it easier for me to stay focused.

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

The mother is partially responsible for her son falling and breaking his arm, but Kevin tells the father he fell... Kevin, a child, knows enough about manipulation and blackmail to have this mental ace against his mother. Yet, at the same time this "secret" bonds the two of them in a way. This was a disturbingly graceful moment in my perspective.

What about Coleen Marlo’s performance did you like?

Her delivery of the mother was spot on. She portrayed the matter-of-fact intelligent mother, while conveying the frustration of sincerely not liking her own child. Coleen brought the story home.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me cringe. If your son is a sociopath, are you allowed to not love him?

  • Overall
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  • Story

Simply incredible.

This book blew my mind. Utterly fantastic study of ambivalent motherhood that should resonate with many a woman. Unsympathetic, selfish, elitist, righteous, and painfully real - protagonist Eve is one of the greatest characters in modern literature. Shriver carries off this unsettling story with wit and a deep sense of discomfort. One of the best novels I have read in recent memory and narrated beautifully by Marlo.

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great book

the story is told in a very interesting way and just made the ending have that much more of an impact definitely worth
the full listen

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Mixed feelings

My favorite books are murder mysteries so this is a little outside of my taste. At first, the perfect pronunciation of every word drove me insane & (I wont lie) I didn't know half of the "big words" that were used. After while it grew on me because the character is clearly educated so it makes sense. In my opinion, the book had a lot of fluff. When I was about half way through I couldn't wait for the book to end. Oddly enough, not because I hated it but because A. I wanted to know my theory was correct B. there was so much extra detail I could have lived without. I will say I was expecting a more of an easy read (...or listen) but this book is definitely geared towards adults. This book didn't have me hooked at any point. There were a few times I wanted to just google what happened and be done with it. It wasnt my cup of tea & I'm glad it's over, but it really wasnt terrible. Side note: I figured out why she writing letters almost instantly. I thought it was very ovbious. The book is rated highly so give it a try!

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Awash with sesquipedalian tendencies.

The story was good if not fairly predictable. It took awhile to really get into it, but never truly hooked me. When it's over there's allot to think about. The writer seems to be quite in love with his thesaurus... if there's an opportunity to use a longer word than is necessary, he jumps on it. I like a book to have flourishes and read with intelligence, but this was done to the point of distraction. Perhaps it was an aspect of the character that is writing the story, but it's hard to tell. It could be the author loves to flash his vocabulary.

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the audible version of this book is terrible.

okay, I couldn't finish this book. Not because the book I'm sure. I've heard great things about it and I'm sure it's great. But the voice that is narrating it for audible, is so terrible I couldn't finish. yuck.

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Couldn't Finish It

Based on the reviews, I had thought this would be a book I would enjoy. I was wrong in that assumption. The premise: a mother coming to terms with the fact that her child is a sociopath and a murder sounded interesting, challenging, promising in emotional depth. Unfortunately, that is not this book. This book is 16 hours of a woman whining about how her life was ruined by the birth of her son. It is no surprise that Kevin turned out so damaged with such a narcissist as Eva. I held on for about five hours hoping that Eva would experience some self-realization. However, in keeping with the narcissistic personality, Eva remains oblivious to the damage she causes--other than to give the expected lip service. I might add that I have no issue with narrators who are damaged or unreliable. Some of my favorite literary characters are not people whom I'd want to spend time with in real life. However, these characters have something about them that makes them compelling. I can relate to them in some way, understand their pain, their struggles even as I might cringe. With Eva, the only reaction she elicited was a strong desire to tell her: "Get over yourself."

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  • Em
  • Northern Virginia
  • 04-18-17

Meh

The characters were cliche and one dimensional. It was a relatively fast read. Didn't live up to the hype.