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Topic: PBS BOOK NUTS: MARCH *WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN* by lIONEL SHRIVER-DISCU

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Subject: PBS BOOK NUTS: MARCH *WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN* by lIONEL SHRIVER-DISCU
Date Posted: 3/6/2009 6:35 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
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Final discussion at 7pm EST Thursday, March 26th!



Last Edited on: 3/25/09 4:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 3/9/2009 7:04 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
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Here's a synopsis so far of what we've read

In a series of compelling and introspective letters to her estranged husband, Franklin, Eva Khatchadourian dissects her married life and her mothering of her son Kevin and daughter Celia in the aftermath of Kevin's Columbine-like school slaying of seven classmates, a cafeteria worker, and a teacher.

Worried that her son's murderousness might have resulted from her deficits as a mother, Eva probes the most intimate and shocking aspects of her inner life, her marriage and her resentment of motherhood. This literary page-turner tackles the sensitive proposition that mothers can be unmoved by -- and even dislike -- their own children. Eva struggles with her lack of ready emotion when Kevin is first placed in her arms

 

How do you like the author's style and why do you think she chose to write this from Eva's point of view using letters to her estranged husband?

Do you feel any empathy for Eva?

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 7:16 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2006
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One question...in the first letter, Eva has an incident in the grocery store in New York, telling the cashier she's the only Khatchadourian in New York state.  Then she's in Florida the rest of the time, judging by her writing about the Bush/Gore voting decision.  Any introspections about that?

I've only read to the beginning of the December18th entry, and haven't even hit the Celia character yet.  (Or I missed something).

I do feel empathy for Eva.  We chose our friends in life, we're not always able to chose our family; sometimes we don't like them, even if they're related to us.  That goes for parents, siblings, children, etc.  I don't think I've read far enough to make a firm decision though.

 

 

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 7:24 PM ET
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Celia hasn't come along yet. But I have to wonder. By Dec 25 Kevin is about a year and half old. If you had a child like what Eva describes would you ever have another one?

I know there is a psycological expression for children that fail to bond with a mother. That part of the lack of bonding includes rages. I need to see if I can find something about it. I had a friend who had a daughter that was diagnosed with this.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 7:25 PM ET
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Jan, Eva is in New York the whole time so far. There is a lot of talk about the election in 2000 and what happened in Florida but she wasn't there.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 7:30 PM ET
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Thanks for clarifying that...had me wondering.

I haven't read to the part where Kevin is so difficult; I've mostly read about Eva's indecisiveness and trepidation over the changes since her pregnancy.   There's this saying tho', that the 2nd one is always different from the first one, no matter what the first one is like.  I always think it's a miracle anyone has another baby after the first...it was traumatic for me, but I had two more.

 

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 7:34 PM ET
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Kathi, are you referring to an attachment disorder, which is common in children who grew up in orphanages and were not nutured?  I wonder if there are other causes...abuse and lack of nuturing are just two I know about.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 7:36 PM ET
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Do you think that Eva's ambivilence toward having a baby contributed to her feelings toward the baby? I haven't read any further than the chapter we were supposed to stop on. In the first "chapters" I got a picture of a career oriented, narcicisstic all about me person. She's constantly traveling leaving her husband for months at a time. She seems to be a control freak. And one thing that you learn as a mother is that kids make it hard to keep control of everything. Their wants and needs always come before yours(well mostly)I don't think she was ready to have a baby even tho she was in her late 30's when she decided to "turn another page"

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 7:39 PM ET
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Yes Jan, that's what I'm thinking of. It also happens with children that are for one reason or another without their mother for the first several months. I'm checking for something. I can't remember why my friends daughter was diagnosed with this, tho I seem to remember there being some type of difficulty plus the mother was a teenager at the time.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 7:54 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
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I'm not sure I like Eva, But I do feel for her.  It seems that Eva, since Kevin's birth, knew that something was very wrong with him.  My question is.......was something wrong with Kevin because his mother didn't want him (or love him)......or Eva didn't love her son because she sensed that something was very wrong with him??

I found the subject matter very difficult to read about, but I'm fascinated by the author's writing style.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:03 PM ET
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Kathi, you nailed Eva's personality when you discribed her as a "narcicisstic all about me person" and "control freak."  I think that is the reason I don't like her very much.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:05 PM ET
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I remember a part of the book where Eva is telling Franklin about someone she was talking to and saying something about knowing what a monster looked like or something like that.

Since we haven't read that far into the book it's hard to say whether as Kevin grows if it is him or if it is his mother that is the root of the problem. I know that there is mention of a civil suit trying to prove that Eva was (I know it wasn't unfit, but can't remember the term)mother.

Do you think that Kevin was born the way he is or did it happen because of environment?

From what I've concluded so far, Eva stayed at home with Kevin until they hired Sioban to care for him. Unless Eva is in complete denial about her caregiving  then his issues didn't arise because she was neglectful. At least not the early months. I don't know what happens as he gets older.

 

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:12 PM ET
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I remember when I was pregnant that I worried more about whether I'd be a good mother rather than whether I'd get my figure back, how the baby would come between me and my SO, how I was missing a glass of wine with dinner. How I couldn't travel in the 3rd trimester and how tied down I'd be after the baby was born.

My dreams involved forgetting the baby on top of the car or in a restruant. LOL

I can't quite grasp why Eva decided to have a baby if she was so ambivalent about the whole thing. It's not like it was an accident.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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I read this book last year. I think that Eva thought she would develop (stronger) feelings for the baby after he was born and this did not happen. She seems to be at a loss on how to proceed since this bonding did not happen.

I don't want to say any more because I don't want to jump ahead of your reading schedule but I will tune in as you go because I thought this book was very profound. I will give you a teaser (hope that is okay) and say that toward the end of the book Kevin and his mother have a conversation that is just brilliant.

 

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:24 PM ET
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I have been shocked at much of what Eva has written.  Although it wasn't my own experience, I can understand not having an immediate connection to a child, but I can't understand the extent to which she seems to continue to dislike him.

I agree with you, Kathi-I can't understand why she choose to have a baby. 

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:27 PM ET
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I think Eva had the baby because Franklin wanted it more than anything. But she is not a pushover . . . if she truly did not want a baby I don't believe she would have become pregnant.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:29 PM ET
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I'm going to bed very soon.

I just want to leave you with a little question. This is over the whole book but we can start now and see if things change as we progress.

Given that the story is told from Eva's perspective only, can she be trusted as reliable? How do you think Franklin's version of events would have differed? Might Eva choose to portray Kevin in childhood as more wicked than he really was, if only to make her seem less culpable for his crimes as a teenager?

 

I'll post another discussion day for the next segment of the book which will probably be about 125 pages from where we are now. I'll be more definite in a day or so. So keep reading!

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:31 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2007
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I have nearly finished the book but of course will confine my comments to the section up to p. 108.

First of all, to me, Eva is not a very likeable character. She seems selfish, haughty, and critical of others. By her own admission she did not want a child, but saw it as a way to "turn the page", her expression for having a new experience. Not only did she hate the pregnancy and delivery, she was repulsed by her newborn child and thought that he felt the same about her, far preferring her husband.  As a newborn, Kevin would not even take the breast, which seemed to set the tone for their estrangement immediately.

From the beginning this was not only a really weird kid, but seemed actually malevolent. Eva's assessment was that Kevin appeared enraged about being alive. And it wasn't just around Eva...several nannies quit after only a few days.

On the other hand, Franklin appears oblivious to Kevin's oddities, preferring instead to blame Eva for any problems.

As the mother of 4 kids, I find Eva's tolerance, slight though it may be, puzzling and disturbing. This really bothered me as I continued to read the book; for Pete's sake, why does she continue to put up with this stuff? Perhaps she is feeling that since she didn't completely want the baby, somehow he senses it and this is her punishment? The fact that the author continued to write the story in this way was a bit annoying. So why did I keep reading? Because I find Shriver's style intriguing. I love her ascerbic, sarcastic wit and her well-chosen, wide-ranging vocabulary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:38 PM ET
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I found Franklin's obliviousness to Kevin's oddness very annoying. Some of Eva's initial tolerance I chalked up to her being a new parent. I know I learned a lot between my first and third children :-)

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:41 PM ET
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It would have been interesting to read Franklin's point of view.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:47 PM ET
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Given that the story is told from Eva's perspective only, can she be trusted as reliable? How do you think Franklin's version of events would have differed?

Night and Day?  Black and White?  180 degrees?  It was even frustrating to read how bone-headed Franklin was regarding his son's behavior and attitude.  In some ways, both parents were equally terrible at parenthood!

Regarding Eva's reliability, it's that old saw that there is HER version, there is HIS version, and then there is the TRUTH.  It is pretty difficult to be totally objective and report on events without bias.

 

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:52 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2007
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Hey!  Where is everybody?  Watching 'Dancing With The Stars'?

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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Well this book is fiction and Eva's is the only perspective we are going to get . . .

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 8:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
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OOPS!  Totally forgot about the discussion til just now!  Oh well, I'll watch for the next discussion.

Date Posted: 3/9/2009 9:53 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2006
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I adore the author's writing style, even though her vocabulary is absolutely poetic!

Although Eva is not always sympathetic, she is being brutally honest.  How many of us can say the same?  I don't think she wanted to be pregnant...it was like each time she left to go to another country.  She made herself go forward; it seemed much the same with the pregnancy.  Time to get on with that part of her life, even though she wasn't quite sure it was what she wanted.

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