We Need to Talk About Kevin is both incredibly beautiful and incredibly terrifying. We meet our narrator, Eva, through her letters to her husband Franklin. At the point that we are introduced to the story, Eva and Franklin's son - Kevin - has orchestrated a high school massacre, referred to simply as "Thursday." Eva's letters to Franklin begin at the true beginning of the story of Kevin, at the time of a happy marriage and discussions of a possible child. Eva was well into her 30's when discussions of a baby became a serious topic. When she became pregnant, though trying for some time to be so, she was disappointed. Eva's retelling of her pregnancy and child birth was incredibly raw. She finds herself horrified to be completely unmoved by the birth of her son. Franklin took immediately to being a father, Eva's development as a mother took 16 years.
Kevin was never a delightful child. He screamed through the day, refused to breast fed, ran off babysitters. Eva believes the meaning behind these acts as being more sinister than a cranky child. She believes that Kevin screams to ruin her day, that he pulls hair to cause pain, that he reluctance to potty train is to torment her. Though in her defense Kevin was in 1st grade by the time he mastered the toilet, imagine changing a 6 year old. As Kevin grows, he becomes more and more of a terror; but only to Eva, to Franklin he seems to play the part of the doting son. Eva continually speaks up as Kevin's behavior escalates to cruel and dangerous, this upsets Franklin. By the time that Kevin has reached 17, Franklin has become so outraged by Eva's constant mistrust and misbelief of their son that he has decided that they should separate.
Then Thursday happened.
At the beginning of most letters, Eve recounts visiting her son in prison. They become honest with each other, even so honest as to say that they often hate each other. There are some definite plot twists, the major one kept me hooked to the story. I felt something was coming and had to see if my inkling was correct. It left me completely heartbroken and shaken. I am not easily shaken.
Though Eva is not a beloved character, she is someone that I can understand in the hypothetical sense. As aging woman, there are thoughts of "well, should I have a kid?" In my own life, I can say that the answer is a firm no; however, I can understand the thought process. The life is so good now, what if this fucks it all up. To me, Lionel Shriver (female) takes that thought process to the extreme.
Lionel Shriver is childless.
Quick note on the audiobook version: I assigned this novel to myself for my 2012 reading challenge as I have heard amazing things. I began to read the book, and could not become engaged. The audiobook complete turned this around for me. This novel was performed, not read by the narrator.