We Need to Talk About Kevin

I read this book 8 years ago, and my memory of finishing the novel is just as vivid as if it were yesterday – sitting in the garden in the bright sunshine, tears rolling down my cheeks, calling a friend for an immediate debrief. I couldn’t wait for the official book club meeting.

The basic storyline goes like this: Eva never really wanted to be a mother, and struggled to bond with Kevin right from the start. He was an odd, unlovable child – and as a teenager he became the mastermind of the Gladstone High School massacre, murdering 7 of his fellow classmates. The story is told in the form of letters written by Eva to her absent husband, Franklin. Her letters are divided into 2 parts – the present, where she is the shunned mother of an infamous teenage murderer; and an exploration of the past, trying to understand the factors that led Kevin to commit such an atrocity. Where did she go wrong as a mother? Was her lack of love to blame, or was Kevin intrinsically evil? And although the climax is dark and horrific, in the end we’re reminded that – despite everything – Kevin is still only a child.

Intelligent, disturbing, confronting, devastating – there are so many adjectives to describe this great piece of literature.