Book Reviews of We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Author: Lionel Shriver
ISBN-13: 9780061124297
ISBN-10: 006112429X
Publication Date: 7/1/2006
Pages: 432
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 147

3.6 stars, based on 147 ratings
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

64 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 526 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 14
Haunting and Disturbing
What a book! I nearly abandoned this book several times in the beginning, but I am so glad that I stuck with it. The ending was quite satisfying, as far as reading goes, and believable.

I cannot say I "enjoyed" this book -- the subject matter is not enjoyable, and the voice of the character is biting. But I will say this is a book that will definitely stay with me for a long time. It poses so many questions -- far more than it answers -- and is exquisitely written. The ending is one that will stay with me forever, I have no doubt. This is a book about a mother - son relationship, about what makes kids "good" or "bad," about motherhood, about the public school system... about a mass murder not unlike Virginia Tech and Columbine. Be prepared to hear it unfold one letter at a time -- the whole book is comprised of letters from the mother to the father... the history as she remembers it. Powerful. Haunting. Infuriating. Believable. Sad. DISTURBING
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 206 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
depressing, dark, disturbing, disgusting........need I say more? I cannot imagine what kind of bizarre mind wrote this book. My book club read this book because the author is local and the story takes place in our county, it was just a horrible ordeal for me to read it. The author was very pretentious in her writing, each sentence was an attempt to "dazzle us" with her intellect. I was not dazzled.....dont waste your precious time reading this horror story, there is nothing redeamable about it in my humble opinion.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 239 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
While I agree that someone needed to talk about (and TO HIM about, oh 15 years earlier) Kevin, I wonder if we really needed to talk about him THIS much. I found myself screaming sometimes in the beginning of this book "NO! We do NOT need to talk about Kevin! Shut up!" The first half of this book could have easily been cut by 25%. It's meandering and I only finished it because I wanted to know the ending. I hated the main characters in this book (except for the daughter). The mother's ambivalence, the father's blindness, the son's - well, everything about him. I wanted to smack that child, deck the mother and castrate the father. The book made me very angry. Can you tell?

Once you get past the first half, things really pick up - esp those last 80 pages or so. The author just spends too much time getting us there. I think part of me knew the "twist" ending, but I didn't want to know it, so I was surprised. I, honestly, am not 100% sure I'd recommend the book, HOWEVER, this would be a really really great book club book. Conversation inducing. I probably won't recommend it to my club because I don't wanna read the blasted thing again.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 92 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Ok, to be honest...it took effort to get through not so much "parts" of this book, but perhaps "lengths" of this book. I am the type of reader who likes to be on the edge of my seat or at least have a very good "picture" painted for me making me dread putting the book down. The author writes in the narrative of Kevin's mother with letters to his father. Before i got to the end of this book, i did feel that Shriver's use of an overly descript vocabulary was exhausting. There's a line to be crossed between vivid portrayal of characters and events and sounding "gramatically self-absorbed". I am, however, verrry glad i finished this book, because the ENDING was unbelieveable...and i do feel, now that perhaps this style was pertinent in the portrayal of Eva's character.
As far as "talking about Kevin", the subject matter is thought-provoking, no doubt forcing one to stop and look at how we view motherhood and children's behavior, leaving us to wonder how much of a warning sign "bad" behavoir can be....
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 526 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Haunting and Disturbing
What a book! I nearly abandoned this book several times in the beginning, but I am so glad that I stuck with it. The ending was quite satisfying, as far as reading goes, and believable.

I cannot say I "enjoyed" this book -- the subject matter is not enjoyable, and the voice of the character is biting. But I will say this is a book that will definitely stay with me for a long time. It poses so many questions -- far more than it answers -- and is exquisitely written. The ending is one that will stay with me forever, I have no doubt. This is a book about a mother - son relationship, about what makes kids "good" or "bad," about motherhood, about the public school system... about a mass murder not unlike Virginia Tech and Columbine. Be prepared to hear it unfold one letter at a time -- the whole book is comprised of letters from the mother to the father... the history as she remembers it. Powerful. Haunting. Infuriating. Believable. Sad. DISTURBING
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 215 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This is a very disturbing book. I have to say that I had a lot of trouble connecting to the characters though. In this woman's position, I would have divorced my husband so fast it'd set a record, if only in some attempt to try to make sure my son was put in a position to have some accountability and responsibility for his actions. Not to even mention the several other things she does that I think are firmly counter-intuitive to the situation at hand. I can understand the sentiment of in some way hating your child, since there are many children that are naturally very difficult to love, but in many ways she fails to take what I'd like to think most people would consider the most basic of precautions to make sure her troubled child doesn't hurt anyone. So, in many ways this book is like a textbook case on all the reasons so many of the parents of kids who commit school shootings are questioned so strongly afterwards for their parenting decisions. You hear them say they knew their child had problems, they knew they had access to weapons, they knew they were majorly troubled, and yet in many cases they can't explain why they did nothing to block off the access to weapons or otherwise try to keep their child from being a danger to others.

Maybe that's the reason this book is so compelling. Even those parents of the most troubled children, who acknowledge their children's issues, still cannot fathom the fact that their child may be truly dangerous to the extent that they would kill someone. And in that fact resides the power of the story. Parents love their children in some way, regardless of what that child does. And partly because of that, even the most aware parent will not fully grasp what their child is capable of. And as a result, it sometimes falls to them to still love one whose actions make them seemingly unlovable.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 130 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book was very different from what I thought it would be. At times I labored through it - it was very wordy, the main character was self-centered and whined too much, and there were points where I just wanted to "get through it." Although I'm glad I finished it, I wouldn't necessarily seek out another book by this author based on this one. It could have lost about 1/3 of the text and the message still would have gotten across. On another site a reader stated: "I gave myself a star for finishing it." I'm not quite at that point, but it was close.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 34 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I borrowed this book from a friend who highly recommended it. This story is fiction, but could so easily be a true accounting of a horrible incident. Like several other reviewers I had a hard time in the beginning of the book, but after reading their reviews I stuck it out and I am glad I did. The book is deeply disturbing with a harrowing end that I did not see coming, but it was very thought out and well written. It was a very very good book and I recommend it.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 526 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Haunting and Disturbing
What a book! I nearly abandoned this book several times in the beginning, but I am so glad that I stuck with it. The ending was quite satisfying, as far as reading goes, and believable.

I cannot say I "enjoyed" this book -- the subject matter is not enjoyable, and the voice of the character is biting. But I will say this is a book that will definitely stay with me for a long time. It poses so many questions -- far more than it answers -- and is exquisitely written. The ending is one that will stay with me forever, I have no doubt. This is a book about a mother - son relationship, about what makes kids "good" or "bad," about motherhood, about the public school system... about a mass murder not unlike Virginia Tech and Columbine. Be prepared to hear it unfold one letter at a time -- the whole book is comprised of letters from the mother to the father... the history as she remembers it. Powerful. Haunting. Infuriating. Believable. Sad. DISTURBING
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Helpful Score: 3
I agree with the reviewer who said it is hard to say I "enjoyed" this book, due to the extremely sensitive subject matter. Quite disturbing. This book is the antithesis of books containing the glowing praises to childbirth and the loving child-parent relationships (complete with witty repetoire and "oh how cute" moments). Instead, this book is a blunt, unforgiving account of a woman who went into motherhood unprepared and not 100% enthusiastic. This is not a "happy, feel good" book. My only complaint is this book starts too slowly, and the protagonist (the mother) is clearly an intellectual who has a somewhat heightened ego and sense of self. The book picks up mid-way through, when the narrative shifts more and more to talking about Kevin, the son. You have to just fight your way through the first half.
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Helpful Score: 2
This book was very hard for me to read, it was written on such a pretentious level, but I understand that from the viewpoint of the character, this was necessary. I struggled to finish it and did enjoy it. The content was disturbing, though very real. I appreciate the amount of research that was required to write such a thorough story. I would highly recommend it, even though the reading was a bit hard at times.
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Helpful Score: 2
This is one of my most favorite books. Lionel has a way with words in this book that is simply elegant. I had a hard time deciding if the mother's negative feelings toward her son caused the tragedy or if the tragedy caused the negative feelings toward her son.
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Helpful Score: 2
Sensational read! Shriver builds suspense, even though we can all see what's coming and does so masterfully. Here ability to write extreme characters, yet make them believable, is brilliant. I recommend this book for anyone who has kids, who is thinking about having kids, or is thinking about making a commitment to be with a significant other. A terrific choice for book clubs, this is a book which can lead to good discussions on many different levels.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 51 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book was gripping but very disturbing.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 526 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Haunting and Disturbing
What a book! I nearly abandoned this book several times in the beginning, but I am so glad that I stuck with it. The ending was quite satisfying, as far as reading goes, and believable.

I cannot say I "enjoyed" this book -- the subject matter is not enjoyable, and the voice of the character is biting. But I will say this is a book that will definitely stay with me for a long time. It poses so many questions -- far more than it answers -- and is exquisitely written. The ending is one that will stay with me forever, I have no doubt. This is a book about a mother - son relationship, about what makes kids "good" or "bad," about motherhood, about the public school system... about a mass murder not unlike Virginia Tech and Columbine. Be prepared to hear it unfold one letter at a time -- the whole book is comprised of letters from the mother to the father... the history as she remembers it. Powerful. Haunting. Infuriating. Believable. Sad. DISTURBING
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Stirring and disturbing book.
You won't expect the ending.
Awesome book, subject matter is troublesome, but the story will definitely stay with you.
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Helpful Score: 2
While this was a decent book, something about it rang really untrue. It's not just that I couldn't relate to the main character - there are many times I can't, but I can still love the book. The last 1/3 of the book does make the book worth reading, though.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 42 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I thought the story line was really interesting. If you can get past (or through) the superior self-righteous manner of the author's/main charcter's manner of speech, you will get into this book. I had been wanting to read it for some time, and I almost put it down as the character seemed so selfish and arrogant. I'm glad I continued because it really was a thought-provoking book.
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Helpful Score: 2
This is a book about a mother's relationship with her "bad" son and her reflection on her family while her son was little. She looks in hindsight at "warning signs" of bad behavior and reflects on her possible mistakes as a mother that may have led to his bad behavior.
This is a very powerful book and the ending was suprising and satisfying.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on
Helpful Score: 2
I agree with the others--- give this book a chance. I almost gave up about 100 pages in because I didn't see it going anywhere, however, there's a really shocking surprise twist so hang in there!
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Helpful Score: 2
I could not get into this book at all. The writing style is odd (or at least it was to me) Sounded like it would be an interesting book but I just could not continue on.
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Helpful Score: 2
This was a powerfully moving book about the ambiguousness of family relationships. At times, I wished to hear Kevin's point of view, but Eva's honest and searing account held my interest throughout.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I was awed, shocked, and horrified by We Need to Talk About Kevin. The book reads as letters from a mother to her former husband. She recalls events of her life that led her to believe to believe that her child, who recently killed several classmates in a violent and inhumane manner, was evil from the beginning.

This book is extremely difficult to read as you hear account after account of a mother who never really "liked" her son. You hear about her selfishness through her pregnancy with him, her jealousy of the relationship of father and son, and her favortism for her daughter. You questoin her sanity and wonder if perhaps she is too biased against her son, but at the same time the evidence points to her recount of the stories. You recoil is disgust as she sympathizes and jokes coarsely with her incarcerated son, wondering how you would react were you in the same situation.

The final chapters of the book are chilling. They leave you gasping for breath and send chills through your blood. It's been over 2 months since I finished this book, and even as I write about it now, my heart still skips and my stomach still turns to just recount the emotionalism this book awakened in me. I loved it and I hated it, but I could not put it down.
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Helpful Score: 2
This book is very powerful but disturbing, kind of like a car accident you cannot look away from. I think this one will stay with me for a long time.
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Helpful Score: 1
Great title. Great idea for a book--the mother of a Columbine-style murderer writes a series of letters to the boy's father. I nearly gave up on this about 125 pages in, when the main character goes on and on about how much she hates her enormous new "dream home" in Nyack, New York. But I'm glad I stuck with it. You'd think that a book that almost immediately reveals a mass murder couldn't build any suspense, but the author manages to do just that. She also throws in some plot twists that I should have seen coming but didn't.
reviewed We Need to Talk About Kevin on + 858 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/07/we-need-to-talk-about-kevin.html

We Need To Talk About Kevin is the story of a killer and his mother. This book begins about three days shy of Kevin's eighteenth birthday. His mother Eva is telling the story through letters she is writing to her presumably estranged husband Franklin. The letters are written over a period of six months. The chronology of the letters goes from the beginning of Franklin and Eva's marriage to the present time.

The story, however, is a nonlinear one because even at the beginning, the reader knows the horrifying truth. Three years prior, three days before his sixteenth birthday, on a Thursday, Kevin went on a killing spree. At his school, he deliberately killed nine people. At present, he is serving his sentence in prison.

Through Eva's letters, slowly the history of this family emerges. Eva's reluctance about motherhood. Kevin's sociopath tendencies. Franklin's determination to make everything seem normal. The birth of Franklin and Eva's second child Celia. Numerous instances of Kevin's increasingly deteriorating behavior. An inkling that more might have happened than we know at the beginning. Regrets and guilt of a parent and her inability to change what happened.

How do I even describe this book? This is one of the most harrowing, horrific stories I have ever read. Not horrific in a zombie apocalypse kind of way. But horrific in its bone chilling, gut-wrenching reality.

Yet, I could not put this book down. And when I did, I could not stop thinking about it. Now that I am done, I am relieved. I knew what was coming, and yet it made it no easier to actually read about it. My plan is to walk away and read something happy and shed the dark and immensely sad feelings of this one. Any book that makes me think and feel the way this one did is definitely worth reading.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was a hard book to read. So much negativity and "snarky" commentary. It was interesting to try to figure out which character to relate to. I recognized traits written about in people I know (some of them relatives, I saw my son in there at times, luckily he is not violent). I often got tired of the "big words" -- like I should have a dictionary by my side. I'm intelligent and well read, but at times it seemed as though she is just showing off her vast vocabulary when the point of the paragraph could have been more simply stated.

It kept me interested enough to finish and find out what exactly happened.
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Helpful Score: 1
really enjoyed this book
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Helpful Score: 1
Wow. This book - structured in letters from a wife to her husband - was excellent. It was totally absorbing and I could not put it down. I enjoyed reading it. The topic of school shootings was handled much better in this book than in Jodi Picoult's _Nineteen Minutes_. I was shocked by the ending and completely riveted from page one. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for this author!
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Helpful Score: 1
A great book...great insight into morbid territory. Surprising twists and turns...Incredible!
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Helpful Score: 1
This is the kind of book that stays with you long after you finish reading. A highly disturbing story which forces you to think about the different relationships and dynamics within a family. I found the first 100 pages or so fairly slow, but the rest of the book went quickly.
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Helpful Score: 1
It was okay once you got into it. I and my cousin thought that it was based on a true story, but afterwards found out it was a novel.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book had some sections of amazing writing that just made me want to break out my highlighter so I could find them again.
I did not see the ending coming and thought this was a very interesting story.
Definitely worth the read.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was an incredibly powerful book for me on so many levels. I repeatedly felt a sense of guilt as I read through Eva's letters to her husband sensing that these were too personal to share, amazed at her level of complete honesty. At many times, Eva said things that I myself have felt but have never shared or, if I have, those feelings were presented in a much more palatable way. The naked and raw language employed by Lionel Shriver only added to that intimacy. Eva questions her role as a mother, and specifically her role as the mother of a child who has committed a mass school shooting and wonders whether she was, in some way, responsible for this heinous act. And then, just as I was settling in to this most unsettling of books, a Sixth Sense-like twist jarred me from my comfort zone and made it perfectly clear why this book won the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction. Magnificent.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book is brilliant.
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Helpful Score: 1
A mother's thoughts of a difficult child who turns into a mass murderer. A surprise twist that would do Jodi Picoult proud.
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Helpful Score: 1
Totally disturbing but you won't be able to stop reading it.
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One of the best audios I listened to in 2008. Very intense. Not a feel good warm & fuzzy, but very well written and the narration is great.
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Although it took me 2 weeks to finish this book, it was a very good book. Story about Eva who is the mother of Kevin. At almost 16, Kevin murdered his classmates and teacher at his school. Eva tries to come to terms with this horror by writing letters to her husband. I wonder if the movie they made is as good as the book.
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It's well written, creative and scary. In fact, is one of the most violent books I've read including mysteries yet it won the Orange Prize. I have to wonder about that.

Was Kevin born bad, a bad seed, or was his mother's reaction to his birth and childhood responsible? And, his father's enthusiasm, too much to believe even for a child, might be at fault as well. Since this is fiction we can only speculate. I do know that some of the early signs of disturbance can be attributed to childhood and the changes a child experiences. Without a doubt, Kevin was pampered in every way, especially by his father. Why should a parent take so much responsibility for a what a child does? Why should society place full blame on the mother? Or, does it?

Did I like this book? I'm still trying to decide but I gave it three stars nonetheless. Can I recommend it to others? I'm not sure. Am I glad I read it? Again, I'm not sure. Maybe time will help me answer these questions.
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Horrifying. Thoroughly unlikeable characters, but a riveting and harrowing novel. I couldn't put it down.
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A really compelling novel. I'm not even a mother, but I could relate so much to this male author writing from a mother's perspective (!). Highly recommended.
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This book starts slow but ends with a bang. Worth sticking out.
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i got this book from my sister. she told me to stick with it, that it got good half way in. actually, it got great, but only the last 100 pages. the first 100 pages were so boring. i wanted to know the gory details of the murders and not so much about her bitching about her evil kid.

the twist at the end was so not what i expected! id suggest readers skip through the first 300 pages and get to the good stuff!!!
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Give this book a chance. Hard to get through beginning but well worth it. Good discussion book and relevant to current events.
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I had a really hard time getting into this one....
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This was a great book with a twist at the end. So sad!
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This book took a little while to get into but ended up being an absorbing read. It kept my attention & kept me wondering who was really the "bad guy" all throughout it. I did guess the ending.
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This entire book is written through letters from the mother to the father. A fascinating look at a school massacre, from the eyes of the child's mother.
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This is an interesting, but difficult read. you are reading a journal of a mother who's son shot up his school.
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This was one of the more disturbing books I have ever read. It was very difficult to read because of the author's writing style. I've never seen such pompous writing and for every word she writes she uses five. I didn't care for the two main characters, but I still couldn't put it down. This is definitely not a light-hearted read. If this is a look inside the mind of a mass murderer and his mother, we should all be afraid.
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Haunting and Disturbing
What a book! I nearly abandoned this book several times in the beginning, but I am so glad that I stuck with it. The ending was quite satisfying, as far as reading goes, and believable.

I cannot say I "enjoyed" this book -- the subject matter is not enjoyable, and the voice of the character is biting. But I will say this is a book that will definitely stay with me for a long time. It poses so many questions -- far more than it answers -- and is exquisitely written. The ending is one that will stay with me forever, I have no doubt. This is a book about a mother - son relationship, about what makes kids "good" or "bad," about motherhood, about the public school system... about a mass murder not unlike Virginia Tech and Columbine. Be prepared to hear it unfold one letter at a time -- the whole book is comprised of letters from the mother to the father... the history as she remembers it. Powerful. Haunting. Infuriating. Believable. Sad. DISTURBING
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Troubling and thought provoking.
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A very intriguing book.
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In letters written to her husband, a wife reveals the difficult job of parenting a difficult son. Secrets are revealed and a family begins to fall apart. An intense story of a mother's search for answers and fallout from a son's tragic decision.
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This book was very thought provoking. The ending was very surprising.
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This book is very well written, but the story is absolutely horrifying, and I couldn't put it down. It's fiction, but so real a story, about a 15 year old boy who kills classmates and teachers. The storyteller is his mother who relives his life, wondering how much she is to blame for his actions. Fascinating!
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Another book club winner insofar as we actually talked about the book all night and it will still come up in conversation. This book will haunt you, whether you are a parent or not. An interesting fact: The author wrote this book while she was trying to decide whether she wanted to have a child. She was interested in the fact that much of the commentary about the Columbine massacre involved blaming the parents. Her point was that when you have a child, you open the door of your life to a total stranger and that door will never be closed - your life is entwined with the life of an individual who you do not know at all when you forge this lifelong bond. She decided that having a child involves a leap of faith she did not want to make. This book loses the final star for me because the narrative pace is irregular - it starts off extrenely slow and by the end, it almost moves too fast. It is hard to keep picking up for the first third and then becomes impossible to put down.
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Absolutely riveting. It is a masterpiece.
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Very well written, but a hard book to get through. Dislike for every character made me force myself to get to the end.
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I heard raves about this book and I really was quite engaged for 60 some pages but at that point I was too exhausted from reading all her bellyaching.
I think I was finally put off when the character stated her feelings/worries about having a baby with a "problem", be it an imbecile or psycho (her words,not mine)
I really don't care how idiosyncratic a character is supposed to be,that both offended and lost me right there. I personally can't stand people who think they are untouchable by life. If I miss a great ending from that,well, it's obvious what finally happened. I don't need to know or read more.
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Terrible! Read the first 60 pages and I'm done with it. I think I disliked themother so much with her self absorbed meaningless chatter, I just couldn't get into it.
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It has been a while since I read this book, but I must say that it was awful. I didn't even finish reading it. I got it per recommendations of a friend and I struggled with it for weeks and weeks. The format was OK, but I did find it challenging to read just for the simple fact that I felt like I was just jumping into it - there was no background given. As a mother myself, I could not relate to the main character's points of view or anything. I wish I wouldn't have wasted time on this book.
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I found this book really hard to follow. The mother rambles a lot. Definitely not the book for me.