We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

The first thing worth saying about this book is that it is a lot more subtle, and therefore better than the film which was made based on this book. From the perspective of his mother writing letters to her husband, the book tells the story of Kevin, the teenager who carries out a Columbine High School style massacre. From the film, it is a lot easier to hate Kevin and absolve his mother from all blame, whereas the book gives insight into the mothers’ thoughts, and paint her as destructively self-absorbed. As a travel writer, Kevin’s mother is at best ambivalent towards her pregnancy because of the effect it will have on her career and happy marriage. The arrival of baby Kevin doesn’t make things better, as mother and baby fail to bond. Kevin cries constantly and won’t be comforted. It as if he knows he isn’t loved. Things go from bad to worse; there is abuse and attempted reparations before the climax of this novel in the massacre. The format of the book in letters to the husband make it initially quite slow and hard to get into, but don’t give up. It becomes compulsive reading after a short while, you will soon be saying to yourself ‘Just one more letter before I put the lights out.’