Sunday, June 27, 2010

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Out of all the books I read last year this was the most memorable.

Written as a series of letters by the mother of a boy who has committed a Columbine-type massacre, to her husband, it is a very intense book.

This boy is a very difficult, demanding and unusual child from birth.  Despite doing all the 'right' things the mother finds herself unable to make a difference to his personality.  She quits her job to be at home with him when the nanny doesn't work out (an understatement).

This book made me think about how much control we actually do have over the outcome of our children.  In this day and age so much pressure is put on mothers to be doing all the 'right' things so that our children are well-balanced, reaching their full potential adults.  Surely we blame the parents when the child turns out to be a mass murderer.  Isn't a story like this every parent's worst nightmare?

This book wrestles with the very real tension between children's personalities - the inherent way they come out at birth - and how much impact parents can have on children's outcomes.

The ending is a twist like no other.  Partly why I found the book is so confronting and memorable.

What's interesting about this book is that the author, Lionel Shriver, has never had her own children.  I find it amazing that she was able to write such an insightful book about being a mother without being one herself.

Highly recommend this book but be prepared.  It's full-on.

2 comments:

charissa said...

This is one of my favourite books, Jenny. I think she is so insightful about human nature. I just read her latest book "so Much for That" and loved it too.

Jenny said...

Glad you liked her latest book - that's next on my pile to read.