Two years after her son Kevin shot 9 people in his school, Eva is slowly coming to terms with what happened then and the part she might have played in this shooting. Slowly, by writing letters to her husband, she unrolls her entire life with Kevin, starting with her hesitation to become a mother and how she talked herself into it, to then fail and make a connection with the child who remains a stranger to her.
We Need to Talk About Kevin is a beautifully written, absolutely entrancing book that had me hooked from minute one and didn’t let me go again.
The book describes the perfect nightmare: Imagine that you have a child that you really can’t connect with, that you actually don’t like at all. What do you do then? You’re completely stuck. And that’s the situation Eva finds herself in. She tries to do her best with it, but you can’t fake feelings that well and a connection not at all.
And Lionel Shriver perfectly captures that hopelessness and desperation. Seriously, if you’re on the fence about having kids, if you share Eva’s worries, this book will probably convince you to not have any. Ever. I mean, personally, I was pretty sure before that I want to have kids and I still do, but only because I generally think nothing bad will happen and if it does, I’ll find a solution. But without that armor of optimisim/just-not-thinking-about-it, yeesh.
If Shriver was any less talented as a writer, the book wouldn’t have hit as hard. But she is and so you get a layered, nuanced examination of the situation and the characters through Eva’s eyes that asks the question of how responsible Eva is for the situation and for her son’s behavior. And all in beautiful prose.
Summarising: a fascinating read that I can only recommend to everyone.