Saturday, March 17, 2007

This morning I finished We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. It's an epistolary novel - told in the form of letters from the narrator, the mother of Kevin, to her husband after their son has committed a Columbine like school shooting.

The characters, particularly that of the narrator, are well drawn and interesting. Since it is epistolary, you only get the single viewpoint and so it is sometimes hard to tell if her interpretation of events or other people's thoughts are correct. For example, many times she feels she knows what her son is thinking but other interpretations seem possible.

I had mixed reactions to the narrator - at times I agreed with her, at times I sympathized with her and at times I disliked her. By the middle of the book, it was clear that neither she nor her husband should ever have been a parents, whether or not they were responsible in some way for the things their son did.

It was the most thought-provoking book I've read in a long time. And disturbing, in some ways as well. Just a few of the issues raised:
- is everyone capable of being a good parent
- what do you do if you don't like your own child
- what do you do if a person will not behave in an acceptable fashion
- are there things that are unforgivable?

Amazon Link: We Need to Talk About Kevin

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