WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN by LIONEL SHRIVER.
AMAZON.CO.UK BLURB: Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband, Franklyn. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.
SOURCE: A friend's copy. Unfortunately I returned the book before making a note of the First Sentence or my MEMORABLE MOMENT.
MY THOUGHTS: First read when it was first published or thereabouts. I couldn't remember much about the book though a sense of how harrowing I thought it prevailed. Would I find it any less harrowing twelve or so years on?
Yes and no.
OK so it could be argued that any writer who is able to provoke such strong reactions in their readers is a good writer and yet, surely equally valid, is the argument that not necessarily a good writer so much as a writer who knows the value of the shock factor and, if nothing else, We Need To Talk About Kevin is high on the shock factor.
Having done her homework as far as the psychological aspect goes and obviously having put her thesaurus to good use if the number of 'unnecessary' words is anything to go by, alas I found the narrative horribly pretentious. The decision to have the main character communicate via endless letters to her ex-husband not a tactic that I felt worked .. but then its no secret that I'm not a big fan of this format.
Not characters I could ever see myself liking but I had expected to have had at least an inkling of empathy towards Kevin and his (un-diagnosed condition) or, indeed, his mom and yet I found myself feeling little aside from the abiding thought that it was a pity that it came across that Ms Shriver herself cared little for her characters or their plight, seeming to rely on the shock factor.