Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The story is told in a serious of letters from Eva, the mother of a 16 year old who has committed a massacre at his school, to her estranged husband. As with all tragedies, the one question that everyone has is "why?" Why did this happen? Why did Kevin take a weapon to work? Why did he target those that he targeted? Why didn't his parents know that something was wrong? Through all these letters, Eva attempts to understand the role she and her husband may have played.
This sounds great, but Eva is far from a reliable narrator. She is not a sympathetic character, and it can be hard to trust what she says. In her letters, it becomes clear that she didn't really want a child and she never really connected to her son. She is quick to blame Kevin for things and to make him out to be a monster. Was he? Was he a 2 year old sociopath? We never really know. Eva's husband never responds to her letters, so we can only see things through her eyes. This makes for difficult reading, but I found it really satisfying. It is obvious that Eva is not reliable, but it also seems obvious that her husband is quick to condemn Eva for ever saying anything bad about Kevin.
We find out that there are numerous episodes in Kevin's childhood that suggest something may be wrong with him, but Eva and her husband can never agree on this. The family is quickly fractured, with the two males against Eva. This sounds terrible, and you can feel Eva's pain in her letters, but because she is not reliable, we never really discover the truth.
What I liked most about this novel was that it told a gripping story, but it doesn't offer easy answers. "We Need To Talk About Kevin" makes it clear that there are numerous features that lead to a tragedy and we many never know exactly what called it.