Wednesday, 22 January 2014
The book that keeps coming back to me
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.
I wasn't going to blog this today. I have a review lined up for tomorrow but this morning it hit me again, as it is sometimes want to do. Out of the blue, just like that. Sometimes you read a book, and it won't let go of you. You remember specific parts of it as if you had only read it yesterday because when you did read it, it made you gasp and your heart race and you couldn't put it down. We need to talk about Kevin did exactly that to me.
We chose it for our book group back in 2010 when it had just been released in paperback. You know what happens in the book before you read it, Kevin has a dysfunctional relationship with his mother and goes on to kill his fellow pupils at school one day. What you don't know, and this is the genius of Lionel Shriver as a writer, is a) why and b) how. Oh my goodness me, when you get to the how bit you can't stop turning the pages.
I'll readily admit, I found the start of the book hard-going. It's a series of letters from Eva to her husband, totally one-sided, for it doesn't show his replies, all about her relationship with Kevin from pre-conception to the present day. There were times when I didn't care about this moaning woman, but I persevered.
And this is what I tell everyone when I recommend this book, and I do recommend it a lot, it's hard work, and a bit self-centred to start with, but then suddenly you know what is about to happen, and forgive me but then BOOM it hits you like a ton of bricks and you stay up so late because you just have to keep turning the pages right up until the very last sentence because Shriver has you gripped.
It's not a 'nice' book, it's about your child murdering other children, and how you deal with that. But it's so fantastically well written you can't help but admire it. Oh, and don't think you can cheat by watching the film because that really won't do at all!
Miss Chapter x