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Posts Tagged ‘We need to talk about Kevin

We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver

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The story is told through a series of letters from Eva to her husband about their mass-murdering son Kevein who aged 14 shoots into his school.  Eva comes across as a cold, unloving mother who describes how she felt her son had ‘hated’ her from the onset.  She gives quite a lot of details to that affect, her post-birth lack of connection to him and her resentment and disbelief at his love for his father, compared to his behaviour when mother and son were left alone.  As such, Kevin comes across as inherently evil, even as a baby.  Franklin (the father) has no boundaries, fails to discipline Kevin and therefore is the ‘good cop’ to Kevin.  So Kevin seems to get away with murder even before he kills someone.  I felt very sad for his sister Celia and I also felt quite protective over her.

This is a classic nature vs. nurture debate.  Is he inherently evil or a product of his family/environment/upbringing?  We are given the impression that his mother was neglectful of him as a child/baby which suggests that perhaps this had a profound impact on the person he became. Or maybe this was simply a mothers guilt taken too far? Whichever conclusion you draw after reading the book, it does make for interesting discussion.  It generated a good discussion in our book club.  Some loved it, others really didn’t.  It made us question a mothers love.  Is it/should it be unconditional? Do you stick by your children, no matter what they do?

Written by Um Yousef

2 September 2007 at 10:00 pm