We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Published: December 27, 2011

Harper Collins

Narrator: Coleen Marlo

I purchased this book on Audible.

Lionel Shriver (born Margaret Ann Shriver; May 18, 1957) is an American author and journalist who lives in the United Kingdom. Her novel We Need to Talk About Kevin won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2005.

“Once again, the truth is always larger than what we make of it.”

Eva lives in a sadly simple duplex and works a thankless job at a travel office. She is standoffish and perhaps a tad cold. Longing for a life she once had, her current situation is filled with regret, hurt, and questions. Writing letters to her estranged husband, we work backward toward the day that changed everything. The day that ruined everything. And the day that may have just taught Eva what it means to possess a mother’s love.

Wow. This was a heavy novel. I have to start this review with a massive trigger warning, and this novel may not be suitable for all readers.

In the first half of this novel, we get to know Eva and Franklin. Who they were “before.” We learn that Eva might not be the most likable character. Judgmental and seemingly cold, quick to place blame and often critical.

We also learn that motherhood unusually found Eva. Not by accident or even by a solid plan. And Eva didn’t find motherhood life-changing in the ways it is typically considered.

The development throughout this novel is slow, and I wouldn’t say I liked Eva for much of the book. But as we reached the point where the story shifts, and we get closer to learning about the day that changed everything- Eva suddenly becomes a character we can empathize with.

This is a deep, dark, tragic tale, and it is haunting. I listened to most of this novel via Audible, but I had to purchase the book to finish the last portion because I couldn’t wait for my next car ride.

The ending is heartbreaking and was challenging to get through, but I also found the ending surprising. The ultimate final twist was devastating, and while I thought it would have worked out the way it did, I still found myself speechless as the story unfolded.

If you find yourself willing to take on this dark story, prepare as much as possible for a novel by taking you through the range of emotions.

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