I picked up We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver at Borders (my very favorite book store…sorry, folks, there’s no good independent book store here) one day. I originally started reading it right away because I was truly intrigued. However, I was forced to put it down so that I could concentrate on what I was reading (I think it was attempting to read Lord Jim).
However, my friend and I decided to read one book at the same time so that we could discuss it, and we ended up with this book. It was picked randomly out of 10 books.
I have to say that it was difficult to get in to. After 80 pages, I still wasn’t really into it. The main character, Eva, who tells the story through letters she writes to her estranged husband, is rather self-centered. She spends quite a bit of time talking about how great their life was before they had their firstborn, Kevin, who is the subject of all the letters because he kills nine people two days before his 16th birthday. Part of the reason life was so “good” before her child was because she wasn’t even sure she wanted to have them. This attitude of hers is alluded to as contributing to her son’s difficulty in bonding with his mother.
The book spends its time trying to reason “why” this happened. The main character takes on quite a bit of responsibility as to her behavior, but is credible in her description of what the child was like. Her son was more than difficult. Frankly, he seemed to be a monster right out of the womb.
This reminds me of a book I read once called The Fifth Child. Reading either of these two books would make you seriously reconsider having children.
The one problem that I had was in believing how blind the father could be to the personality disorder that his son was certainly displaying. However, after discussing this with a former teacher, apparently My Child Right or Wrong is really not that uncommon.
Even though it took me 80 pages to get interested, I had a difficult time putting it down after that. The story really takes off at a brisk pace and doesn’t stop until the disturbing ending.
I don’t know if the story left me hopeful or disheartened. Perhaps a little of both.
All in all, I would highly recommend this book. It gives you a lot to think about, a lot to chew on. But consider yourself warned that it may make you reconsider having children…or maybe it will make you hug your well-adjusted children just a little tighter.