As the two previous posts started with the word “before”, this one is going to be about “after”.
AFTER I read Lionel Shriver’s book “We Need to Talk about Kevin” I decided that she’s an author that has to be added to my “looking forward to reading more” list.
I knew “We Need to Talk about Kevin” was going to be about school shooting (or a columbine monster - a new term for me) and as I’ve already read the famous Jodi Picoult’s “Nineteen Minutes” I expected it to be somehow similar. I wasn’t prepared for a thorough analyses of such a long chain of events that might have led a boy to committing dreadful crimes (the whole thing starts with his mother being not sure about having a child in the first place).
As the story is told by Kevin’s mum, in a series of letters written for her husband, there’s not a lot of direct speech and it made the reading a bit difficult. But all I can say – Lionel Shriver is a very intelligent woman, who succeeded in portraying how things can go wrong, no matter how badly you want to make everything right.
Nature versus Nurture
I’ve been always of the opinion that no one can be born evil. Is that possible? No doubt I would have always shouted: No! And thinking about it, even now I’d say that any dysfunctional behavior has it roots somewhere in the course of the upbringing. (This goes with Jean Jacque Rousseau’s theory that everyone at birth is like an empty sheet of paper.) That’s why it’s a bit peculiar that, without noticing how, reading this book I became sure that the main character - Kevin - was bad from the very first days of his life. I jumped on his mum’s side and was getting angry that no one else noticed the boys will to harm people. So if Lionel’s plan was to shake some strong believes, she’s done it.
To Have or not to Have
The other important subject in the book is fears concerning motherhood. In this day and age couples more often decide to postpone having children and the fears, that arise before the desicion to have a child is made, are really multiple: what if the child has some terminal disease, what if he/she is killed in an accident, what if the parents won't manage to provide for the child etc. But I've never thought of the one the author suggests - what if the child turns into a monster and causes so much grief for the others?
Well, if you decide to read this book, there'll be plenty to think about afterwards. And after you've read it, have a look at this inteview with Lionel Shriver, where she "discusses her chilling novel "We Need to Talk About Kevin," her fears about motherhood and how Columbine monsters are made":
Oh, and it seems that in 2011 there should be a film based on this book!
Brave Writer is speaking in Cincinnati this August!
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