We Need To Talk About Kevin

We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver

All the hype about this book is justified, and I wish it hadn’t put me off reading it for so long. The subject matter of a woman (mother, wife) trying to sort through the events causing and surrounding her son’s columbine-esque high school massacre is obviously very dark, and is utterly fascinating. Shriver does well to tackle such taboo subjects concerning motherhood and women who do not feel like ‘natural’ mothers; to the point that I realised my own reactions to stories about Kevin as a child were unsettling. There is a lot of interesting material for psychological debates about nature and nurture, but to be honest even though I finished the book a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t sorted it all out in my head yet. The story definitely stays with you, and I love books that can do that. And back to basics, Lionel Shriver is a wonderful (if that word doesn’t sound too ‘nice’ compared to the subject matter!) storyteller. Plus this book, like Notes On A Scandal, gets to play around with not just unlikeable narrators, but unreliable ones too. Fictional or no, this kind of violence in children can be seen as a worrying side effect of our culture so we really should talk about subjects like Kevin through books like this, rather than solely sensationalist tv programmes and the like.