“You can only subject people to anguish who have a conscience. You can only punish people who have hopes to frustrate or attachments to sever; who worry what you think of them. You can really only punish people who are already a little bit good.”
― Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Those lines summarize the whole personality of Lionel Shriver’s protagonist Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin.
“Had I catalogued the downsides of parenthood, “son might turn out to be a killer” would never have turned up on the list.”
What happens when you give birth to a child who doesn’t have any conscience, any emotion to speak of, and who is downright evil? You got to recognise the abnormality and get medical help. That’s the best one can do as a parent. But, in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’, Eva Khatchadourian despite recognising the telltale signs, failed to do anything about it and lost everything that was life. Franklin, on the other hand, seemed blindly oblivious to his son’s faults and failed to see the things shaping toward a doomed end. Kevin: he was evil; born that way. Some kind of medical help could have helped him (maybe). But Eva, I disliked her as a mother: for being so cold and aloof; for seeing Kevin for what he was and not doing a single thing about that. However, in the end my heart cried for her as well (what else a mother could have done?).
If you are a parent, do read it. Once, at least. But I warn you it is a powerful book about ugly things—difficult, depressing, dark, and soul-dampening. It will stay with you for a long time.
Neena lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, two children, a highly energetic German Shepherd, and a lifetime collection of her favorite books.
A hermit at heart, she’s a permissive mother, a reluctant housekeeper, a superb cook, and a hard-core reader.
Tied to Deceit is her debut novel.
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