Saturday, 5 January 2013

120/111 - We Need To Talk About Kevin

I started writing this post and it somehow got deleted, which is very annoying indeed. I have read this book once before, a couple of years ago, and I really enjoyed it the first time round. I decided to read it again recently after the school shooting as I remember it being so excellent.

I also tried out reading on my iPad for this book, too. I think one of the things which prevents me from embracing the iPad even more for reading is the fact that I have to pick one medium or the other. In this case, I already happened to have a copy of the book, and I also downloaded the ebook copy in order to switch between the two. I did this fairly regularly depending on what I was doing - some days I would use the iPad (like in bed, for example) and other days I used the book. I found that the first half of the book I read fairly slowly on the iPad, but then when I switched back to the paper copy, I read the second half in just a day. I think all I'm trying to say really is that I still prefer the real book. If books began to do what some DVDs are doing, then I think I would be more likely to read on my iPad. These days I am starting to see more and more DVDs with an electronic copy as well as the physical copy for one price, and it would be cool if books would do this, too.

Anyway, onto the book.

This book is set in the late 90s, and is told from the point of view of Eva, mother of Kevin, who is currently serving a sentence in prison for killing ten of his classmates. The book is told as a series of letters to Eva's husband, Franklin, which makes it so much more powerful and intimate. The voice of Eva in this is absolutely fantastic and terrifying at the same time.

Eva recounts her life as a couple with Franklin before they had children, and how they ended up having a family. Eva has never really wanted children and when Kevin is born she fails to bond with him immediately. From birth, he is a difficult and moody baby, driving away everyone around him. Eva is convinced that the baby's angriness and lack of affection is deliberate, whereas Franklin wants to think the best of the situation and pushes Eva to try harder.

It's really tough to read about how Eva struggles to cope with the presence of Kevin in her life and marriages. Her relationship with her husband begins to break down, she has to compromise her career and eventually even has to move away from the city she loves to the suburbs at the demand of Franklin.

It's also really frustrating to see the way Franklin continues to be blind to what Eva sees emerging in Kevin. It made me want to smack him and he's not even my husband. But it was also terrifying because I can see it happening so easily, it's so realistic it's almost creepy.

I think one of the most frightening things about this book isn't the fact that you imagine raising a child capable of murder, but that you could raise a child that totally goes the opposite way you want it to. I doubt very much that anyone starts a family without the intention of being happy, and yet when I look around me I see plenty of people with unhappy families - from families who don't get along to families rife with misery. It makes you wonder how people can fuck it up so badly? Or is it just the natural product of essentially bringing a stranger into your life?

So much to think about and I can't really articulate all of it. I felt a lot of empathy with Eva, and as someone who isn't sure whether or not I want to have children in future it certainly provides plenty of food for thought.

This book is spectacular.

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