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Synopsis

That neither nature nor nurture bears exclusive responsibility for a child's character is self-evident. But generalizations about genes are likely to provide cold comfort if it's your own child who just opened fire on his feellow algebra students and whose class photograph—with its unseemly grin—is shown on the evening news coast-to-coast.

If the question of who's to blame for teenage atrocity intrigues news-watching voyeurs, it tortures our narrator, Eva Khatchadourian. Two years before the opening of the novel, her son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-beloved teacher who had tried to befriend him. Because his sixteenth birthday arrived two days after the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is currently in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York.

In relating the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses her estranged husband, Frank, through a series of startingly direct letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son became, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general—and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault?

We Need To Talk About Kevin offers no at explanations for why so many white, well-to-do adolescents—whether in Pearl, Paducah, Springfield, or Littleton—have gone nihilistically off the rails while growing up in the most prosperous country in history. Instead, Lionel Shriver tells a compelling, absorbing, and resonant story with an explosive, haunting ending. She considers motherhood, marriage, family, career—while framing these horrifying tableaus of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.

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3.9 out of 5
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    A chilling, thought-provoking book, especially for mothers. This book stays with you long after you've read the last page. Shriver's characters are convincing and her story telling ability kept me riveted. It's been a while since I read it but I recall the narrative, told in the second person, was irritating at first but this was soon forgotten as the story unfolded. A definite page turner with a horrifying twist.

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    A colleague recommended this book to me some 7 years ago and I was hooked from the very first page. It is a gripping book that leads the reader though a labyrinth of conflicting emotions and leaves the reader to contemplate the current state of our society.

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    I read this book a few years ago, but it is still the book I recommend to everyone who likes reading. Although this book is fiction, it is so realistic that it is hard to believe that the author did not experience a situation where her son opened fire in his school. In the book, this event happens 2 years prior to the beginning of the book, but the author cleverly goes into the past to show her entire marriage and motherhood, and then continues to come back to the present. Once I got partway through the book, I felt like I had swallowed a basketball and that feeling continued until the book was over. I was on an African safari while I was reading this book and although I was having the time of my life on this holiday, I was always anxious to get back to the hotel at night so I could keep reading. That truly says something about the quality of the writing. My only complaint about the book is that there are so many words that I had never seen before! This was a little off-putting initially, but I just ignored it and still knew exactly what the author was trying to say. I have since read most of Lionel Shriver's other books (it is a woman, by the way), and they are good reads, but none of them compare to this one. Go read it and see for yourself!

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    Amazing book. I listened to it ..worked really well as an audio book. Didn't know much about it which helped

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    Hard to get started, but persevere it is intriguing, and startling, and thought provoking. Well worth staying with it.

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