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We Need to Talk About Kevin? Oh yes, we must! [Booky McBookNerd]

I was intrigued by the movie, We Need to Talk About Kevin. It had an interesting premise: a mother has to cope in the aftermath of her son’s shooting rampage at his school. Ezra Miller creeped me out as the young psychopath and you could feel the unrelenting war between him as his mother, Eva (Tilda Swilton). I made a mental note to read the novel one of these days when I had some free time (ha!!!). This past weekend I decided to purchase the Kindle version. The Kindle app on my smart phone has made me more of a voracious reader than ever. Gone are the days of waiting for a book to come in the mail from Amazon. Gone are the days of racing out excitedly to the Barnes and Noble and spending more than I expected to.  I love my books. I love them. Now with Kindle, I can gorge myself on them again and again.

The novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a collection of letters from Eva to her husband and Kevin’s father, Franklin. We learn through the letters that Kevin has just murdered a number of his classmates and a teacher. In the beginning of the novel, it is clear that Eva and Franklin have separated and Eva alone has to deal with the fallout of Kevin’s actions. Eva not only has to deal with the media scrutiny and the wrath of the parents who have lost their children because of her son. Eva examines her life in an attempt to understand her son and her responsibility for who he is. We learn that Eva was the successful travel guide publisher who travelled the world before she was married and gave birth to Kevin at 37.  We learn that Kevin was born a difficult child who always battled with his mother. As a newborn Kevin spurned his mother’s breast and when he did finally suckle he gave his mother a life threatening infection. Eva sees her son’s true nature as does every babysitter, and other children. It is only Franklin, with his blind optimism that can only see Kevin as part of the American dream, the all American son.

I should have rejoiced when Franklin’s son killed him. He was the foolish, willfully blind father. Instead I’d rather that Franklin had to face the horror that his good boy really was. Maybe that’s the point. I can see Franklin denying Kevin’s massacre had he lived. He would have found a way to defend his son and his actions. Maybe that’s why Kevin killed him. He didn’t want any defenders. He didn’t want to be defended by someone who didn’t know him who couldn’t possibly know him. I think that’s the real reason he spared his mother’s life. He needed a parent who saw him for what he really was, which is a type of empathy, a sort of connection.  Eva and Kevin experience the world in much the same way from the same superior haughty remove. They both realize that Kevin has done a horrible thing for horrible reasons. Franklin would have found a way to excuse it, to willfully not see. Kevin wanted the world to see.

I’m smart, but more than that I have been well educated yet even I was tripping over some of the words that Shriver uses. Yet although they sometimes make the prose clunky they are not out of character for Eva, a deep thinker with a grave matter to reflect upon.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a book that I would read again and again if it didn’t lead me to contemplate my own deeply held values and my own life and experiences.  It’s a worthwhile read but not an easy one about an easy subject.