we need to talk about kevin review

November 13, 2012

I went back and forth about writing a review on this book. Eventually I decided to give in because a lot of people asked me to – I aim to please, people!

We Need to Talk about Kevin is NOT a light-hearted, happy book – at all. In fact, the only reason why I had picked it up in the first place is because two women I work with convinced me to read it. It sounded much too dark for me, but I have to say, it was a good story. Disturbing? That too.

This fictional story is about a mother, Eva, and the event that now defines her life. Her son, Kevin, was responsible for a school massacre in New York in 1999. The story is made up of letters Eva writes to her husband about their life as a family, starting with their early dating life and marriage. I must admit, the first 50-75 pages of the book moved slow. I wanted to get to what happened already – to Kevin’s childhood, to what made him the teenager who had enough gall to commit such a heinous crime. As slow as it was, those pages and chapters were critical for the book’s development.

The letters the book is comprised of goes back and forth from the story of her role as a mother and present day where she visits her son in prison. I’m not giving anything away, and I really didn’t think there could be any twists and turns in a novel like this. But oh were there twists… and then some turns. I couldn’t believe how deep and multi-layered her characters were.

The whole story had me thinking hardcore. The really big questions I had when I was reading this book were all along the lines of parenthood. The mother, Eva, never really wanted to become a mother. Did she do this to her child by the way she treated him? Was he born with this evil streak? What is the role of a parent? What does unconditional love for your children look like?

I’m here to tell you that this book isn’t for everyone. Even after reading it, I’m not sure it was for me.I will also tell you I screamed a few times towards the end pages with some of the events that happened.  Despite the disturbing subject and anecdotes that went with it, I’m glad I read it. To really and truly understand what might go through someone’s mind that is an honest to goodness sociopath makes me scared for people who actually know someone like that.

Sooo, read it – or don’t. I can’t truly tell you what to do with this one! If anyone does read it though, PUH-LEASE tell me so we can have a book discussion about it. I need to decompress about it!

Here is another review about it – a much better written one than mine!

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Linz @ Itz Linz November 13, 2012 at 6:01 am

I’m not sure I could handle that book… Like tv and movies, I only like light hearted, fun, romantic, or funny stuff… I’m not very deep and don’t like anything that could possible distrub/scare me!

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cleaneatingchelsey November 13, 2012 at 6:09 am

I like a whole variety of novels, so I could get through it okay!

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Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles November 13, 2012 at 6:10 am

Geeze that sounds deep- sounds like the author did a wonderful job writing though! ….I’m truly intrigued but like you- I don’t know this book would be for me right now. I’ll stick with fluff :)
You wrote a good review! Great overview without giving too much away.

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cleaneatingchelsey November 13, 2012 at 6:10 am

haha yeah… as a new mommy, I wouldn’t read it!!!

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Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale November 13, 2012 at 6:17 am

I find that it’s always interesting to become engrossed in a novel whose characters are experiencing something that’s a complete departure from your own life. It’s funny because typically, I love it when I find characters and their situations 100% relatable. But there’s just something about a book that’s well-written, but contain characters and a plot you would never hope to understand on your own. A good author can take you from your world, place you in theirs, and help you to understand them fundamentally (thoughts, motivations, ambitions, etc). I love learning, and I especially love how even fictitious novels can teach me something new — whether it be about human nature, new situations, or different experiences.
Total bookworm/nerd right here. ;) #noshame

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Amy B @ Second City Randomness November 13, 2012 at 6:30 am

So here’s the real question… will you follow up by watching the movie? :)

It looks freaky. I want to read the book and hope that maybe it’ll come up as a way to mix things up in my book club.

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cleaneatingchelsey November 13, 2012 at 6:41 am

I totally want to watch the movie!

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Tina @ Best Body Fitness November 13, 2012 at 6:42 am

Now you make me want to read it. Even though it does seem a little darker than what I would normally pick.

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 5:55 am

I think you’d like it!

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Michelle@Peachy Palate November 13, 2012 at 6:43 am

It’s hardcore and disturbing but I absolutely loved this book; I read it a couple of years ago and got enthralled in it; liked that there were times when I cried and felt completely, probably overly involved but it’s really well written. So random to see you reviewing it!

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 5:55 am

it is really well written – I felt emotional reading it too!

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Lauren November 13, 2012 at 6:57 am

Wow, this book sounds gooood! I’m not much into light-hearted fiction so I think I would find this intriguing. The last book I read was okay but almost put me to sleep. If I didn’t just get the next 50 shades book for my plane right, I’d be all over this one. I’ll put it on my reading bucket list.
PS- 2 days!!!

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 5:56 am

haha! What was the last book you read? And I’m excited! :)

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Parita November 13, 2012 at 7:11 am

I just read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, and it deals with a similar subject. I still find myself thinking about some of the same questions you posed in your post. I was telling my husband about the book, and we got into a discussion about sociopaths and psychopaths. Crazy stuff. Thanks for the review!

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 5:56 am

I read Nineteen Minutes in college. It’s good!

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Beks November 13, 2012 at 8:05 am

It’s good that you went outside your comfort zone. I want to read this book really badly. The last book that took me outside my comfort zone was called “Jenny Pox” (Free on Amazon for Kindle!), and it was a lot more horrific than I realized, but I devoured it. So good!

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 5:56 am

I’ll have to check that out!

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Stacey November 14, 2012 at 8:54 am

I checked out ‘Jenny Pox’ for my Kindle for iPad yesterday and started it last night. So far, so good. I also was able to check out ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ from the library yesterday. Always appreciate the suggestions ladies!

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Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life November 13, 2012 at 8:35 am

I have never heard of this book before.. I am definitely more of a lighthearted book lover, but mysteries and suspense novels can intrigue me as well. I may have to check it out and read it.. During the daytime.. Ha!

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 5:59 am

haha honestly only the ending made me gasp. The lead up to the end is just alla bout the events that happened in his life (none of which are really too gory)

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Natalie @ Free Range Human November 13, 2012 at 8:41 am

I think I’ll have to pick this one up. I’ve read a few different novels lately that deal with the “other side of the story” of school shootings. It’s interesting to look at it from the perspective of the family of the killer. They, too, are shattered by these experiences. Jodi Picoult wrote a great one on this topic called “Nineteen Minutes.”

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:00 am

I read that one a few years ago!

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Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy November 13, 2012 at 8:45 am

This sounds interesting, but I’m not sure that I could handle the content. I’m too anxious of a person!

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Celina November 13, 2012 at 8:51 am

I watched the movie only a week or so ago and LOVED IT! It was disturbingly chilling with brilliant acting and storytelling. You must see it!!

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:00 am

I’m wanting to watch the movie next!

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Katie @ Peace Love & Oats November 13, 2012 at 9:25 am

I’ll totally read it!!!! Maybe not until Christmas break though, but I will so read it! Did you buy a real copy? Lol can I borrow it?

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:00 am

It’s actually my co-workers and there’s someone in line after me. :(

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Kate November 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

This has been on my list for a while, partly because I always try to read the book before I see the movie. I didn’t know the book was comprised of letters – that could be really interesting!

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christina November 13, 2012 at 9:44 am

Oh, yup, I’m adding it to Goodreads. haha. Thanks for writing the review!

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:01 am

:) You’re welcome. After you read it and you neeeed to talk (because you will need to) please email me! haha!

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Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl November 13, 2012 at 9:50 am

I tend to select more lighthearted reads, but I think this might be a nice change of pace. I’ll be adding it to my list!

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kim@hungryhealthygirl November 13, 2012 at 10:17 am

I’m not sure if I want to read this book or not?!?! I usually don’t go for dark books either, but your review has intrigued me.

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:01 am

It was hard for me to decide to read it!

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Annette@FitnessPerks November 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

It’s hard for me to read disturbing books, but it does sound interesting. Thanks for reviewing it!

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Kari M November 13, 2012 at 10:28 am

I read this when I was pregnant with my first child. Talk about a horrible book to read while your pregnant! I appreciated the book but I think I would have enjoyed it better if I had read it either before or after my pregnancy.

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:01 am

Um yeah, I would NOT suggest that!!! haha!

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Danica @ It's Progression November 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I’ve debated about reading this book for quite a while now…It sounds SO interesting but I’m not just sure I could handle the content either! I get pretty freaked out too easily about a lot of things : /

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Lauren November 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I’m actually reading it now. Very heavy stuff.

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:02 am

Very true! Let me know how you like it when you finish.

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Amber K November 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I don’t think I could handle the book. Like I already told you I saw part of the end when my husband was watching it, but they didn’t really show much of the violence. I know I couldn’t handle reading the actual details!

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:02 am

The ending is the worst part actually – the whole book isn’t really gory!

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Kate November 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm

This was the first book our book club decided to read otherwise I would never have picked it up. Honestly, when I first finished it, I was really mad that I had read it because it just left me in such a blue mood. It’s a supremely heavy book, but after the initial shock, I was glad I read it. It’s a very interesting story, and I also found myself switching my allegiance between Kevin and Eva throughout the whole book. Apparently there’s a movie, but I can’t imagine how it could fully capture the emotions of the book.

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:03 am

I didn’t find myself as sad as I was perplexed. I just wanted to know WHY he was the way he was. It was just a lot of questions!

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Gigi November 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I’m up for a book club choice next month and think I’ll go with this one. Very intriguing even though this is not my typical pick.

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Stephanie @ The Travelling Tastebuds November 13, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I love your book reviews. I’m a book snob and am very particular about what I spend my time reading. Let’s just say… I don’t have time for crappy writing or story lines ;) Having book reviews from a blogger I trust helps with the selection process :)

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cleaneatingchelsey November 14, 2012 at 6:03 am

:) I love books too!

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kaity @ kaityscooking November 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm

i like books like this i def cant wait to give this a try thank you!

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suzanne November 14, 2012 at 8:00 am

So interesting that you posted this today – I heard an interview on NPR yesterday of an author who spent significant time with the parents Dylan Klebold( that did the Columbine shooting). It was amazing to listen to him and how his view of things changed after spending so much time with them. It is intriguing – but yes – very dark and you need to be in a place to go there.

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Aimee @ Low-T therapy November 15, 2012 at 4:20 am

That sounds something interesting and I am simply diverted towards the theme of story. Looking forward to read it soon.

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Anna @ The Guiltless Life November 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I’ve heard so many things about this book – and the movie that’s coming out soon (or out already?) I figured it was disturbing – 1) due to Lionel Shriver, 2) Tilda Swinton is in the movie…yeah…!

But thanks for the review!

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jodie November 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I loved it!

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