Review of "We Need To Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver

For the summer, I've committed myself to my own plan to "Slow Down And Read" and I have a list of ten books I'm working on. They're a combination of romance, literary, mystery, historical, and just plain entertaining. This morning, I finished reading "We Need To Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver. Here is my review (as posted on GoodReads)

We Need to Talk About Kevin (P.S.)We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a brilliant novel. I don't say that lightly. I mean it. It's brilliant. And I think Lionel Shriver is a genius. Her work is like reading a mixture of Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Dorothy Parker. She is relentless, fierce, and writes about the underbelly of the psyche. She is also lyrical. "We Need To Talk About Kevin" is not an easy read. The subject matter is daunting (a woman reflects on the signs in her son's life that would lead him to committing a massacre at her school); the voice is ruthless (with lines like when my son was born "I felt nothing"); and still, the piece is utterly compelling.

It leads one to look at the root of evil. Is evil incarnate or is it created? Is a sociopath born or made? Should a child (essentially) be held accountable for his own monstrosity?

It also echoes fears every mother possesses from gestation to the adulthood of a child: What if I give birth to someone who is damaged? Is it my fault? How much of a child's behavior is because of the mother?

The novel plays on fears, but it also explores our own humanity.

A few years ago, I was booked to narrate Shriver's "A Post Birthday World". It was, like this novel, challenging but in the end, thoroughly rewarding both intellectually and emotionally. I haven't been booked to narrate another of her books (though I so wish I would be), so instead I'm vowing to read everything she's ever written. She is not a writer that makes you feel good. No. She challenges you. She gets in your face and makes you uncomfortable. She demands that you analyze your own life and your own choices. For this reason, I can't seem to put her work down. I'm completely, reluctantly, enthralled.

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