Lionel-Shriver-gets-Orang-006.jpg

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

By Mel Biv Devoe | Books | August 12, 2010 | Comments ()

By Mel Biv Devoe | Books | August 12, 2010 |


Lionel-Shriver-gets-Orang-006.jpg

Imagine for a moment that your child has committed a terrible crime. Who is to blame -- him, or you, as his parent? What led him to that moment -- the way he was raised, or something innate that has been growing inside him over the years? Basically, is it nature or nurture that has led him to be a stone-cold murderer?

That's the question that Eva Khatchadourian has been struggling with for years, since the day her son Kevin walked into his high school gymnasium and killed 9 people, 7 kids and 2 adults. In a series of letters to her husband, Franklin, Eva recounts not only the massacre but everything that led up to that point, beginning with when she met her husband through conceiving and raising Kevin and her younger daughter Celia.

Eva holds nothing back in her quest to understand what drove Kevin to kill. She discusses feeling ambiguous about being pregnant and even recounts a time when she let her anger take control and left toddler Kevin with a broken arm. Her unflinching introspection is at times difficult to read, but Shriver keeps the story moving. And there is a twist that I figured out after the first few chapters, but is nonetheless heartbreaking.

The story doesn't have a tidy resolution -- there is no black and white answer for why Kevin did what he did. If you're looking for an answer to the nature vs. nurture debate, you won't find it here. But you will find a realistic, engaging story that's bound to leave you with new questions of your own.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Mel Biv Devoe's reviews, check out her blog, Impudent Strumpet.


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