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The timely topic of Shriver's (Double Fault) eighth novel is sure to guarantee lots of attention, but the compelling writing is what will keep readers engaged. This is the story, narrated in the form of letters to her estranged husband, of Eva Katchadourian, whose son has committed the most talked-about crime of the decade-a school shooting reminiscent of Columbine. From the very beginning, the reader knows that Kevin has been found guilty and is in a juvenile detention center, yet the plot is never stale. Shriver delivers new twists and turns as her narrator tells her story. Through Eva's voice, Shriver offers a complex look at the factors that go into a parent-child relationship and at what point, if any, a parent can decide if a child is a hopeless case. This novel will appeal to fans of Rosellen Brown's Before and After. Recommended for all public libraries.-Karen Fauls-Traynor, Sullivan Free Lib., Chittenango, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A number of fictional attempts have been made to portray what might lead a teenager to kill a number of schoolmates or teachers, Columbine style, but Shriver's is the most triumphantly accomplished by far. A gifted journalist as well as the author of seven novels, she brings to her story a keen understanding of the intricacies of marital and parental relationships as well as a narrative pace that is both compelling and thoughtful. Eva Khatchadourian is a smart, skeptical New Yorker whose impulsive marriage to Franklin, a much more conventional person, bears fruit, to her surprise and confessed disquiet, in baby Kevin. From the start Eva is ambivalent about him, never sure if she really wanted a child, and he is balefully hostile toward her; only good-old-boy Franklin, hoping for the best, manages to overlook his son's faults as he grows older, a largely silent, cynical, often malevolent child. The later birth of a sister who is his opposite in every way, deeply affectionate and fragile, does nothing to help, and Eva always suspects his role in an accident that befalls little Celia. The narrative, which leads with quickening and horrifying inevitability to the moment when Kevin massacres seven of his schoolmates and a teacher at his upstate New York high school, is told as a series of letters from Eva to an apparently estranged Franklin, after Kevin has been put in a prison for juvenile offenders. This seems a gimmicky way to tell the story, but is in fact surprisingly effective in its picture of an affectionate couple who are poles apart, and enables Shriver to pull off a huge and crushing shock far into her tale. It's a harrowing, psychologically astute, sometimes even darkly humorous novel, with a clear-eyed, hard-won ending and a tough-minded sense of the difficult, often painful human enterprise. 4-city author tour. (May) Forecast: The subject, unfortunately, is nearly always timely, and this by no means sensationalist account can be confidently sold as the best novel of its kind; in fact, the extent of the author's insights should make her very promotable. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
'Addresses head-on the question that causes anguish to the greatest readers of fiction these days, middle-class women: when to, or even why, have a child?' Australian 'By far the best novel I've read in years...exquisitely crafted...a breathtaking work of art.' Age 'Brilliant...compulsive.' Guardian 'An elegant psychological and philosophical investigation of culpability with a brilliant denoument...although (Eva's) reliability as a narrator becomes increasingly questionable as she oscillates between anger, self-pity and regret, her search for answers becomes just as compulsive for the reader.' Observer 'Harrowing, tense and thought-provoking, this is a vocal challenge to every accepted parenting manual you've ever read.' Daily Mail 'One of the most striking works of fiction to be published this year. It is Desperate Housewives as written by Euripides...A powerful, gripping and original meditation on evil.' New Statesman '[Shriver's] detailed depiction of a marriage and a family torn apart by silence is disarmingly direct...Shriver's novel is a timely one...maybe we all need to talk about Kevin...Nature or nurture? Shriver leaves it to the reader to decide in this powerful cautionary tale.' Belfast Telegraph 'Few novels leave you gasping at the final paragraph as if the breath had been knocked from your body. Yet such is the impact of We Need to Talk About Kevin...Shriver's novel subjects a sensitive topic to fierce and tough-minded scrutiny.' Bookseller 'A great read with horrifying twists and turns.' Marie Claire 'A deeply shocking but mesmerising novel.' Herald 'This book asks the question many women are afraid to ask: does maternal instinct really exist...A good read for all women who have struggled with the loss of self that often comes with motherhood.' Big Issue 'Forces the reader to confront assumptions about love and parenting, about how and why we apportion blame, about crime and punishment, forgiveness and redemption.' Independent 'One of the bravest books I've ever read...original, powerful, resonant, witty, fascinating and deeply intelligent.' Sunday Business Post