Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We Need To Talk About Kevin

When a school shooting happens, the public shakes their heads and inevitably asks the question, "What kind of parents let this happen?"  Certainly parents have a decisive role in how children turn out, but in some cases the child may have been born with latent tendencies toward anti-social behavior.  In WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN author Lionel Shriver explores the character of a woman named Eva, whose child murdered nine people just before his 16th birthday.  Eva never bonded with Kevin, and now, two years after the murders (as Kevin faces adult prison), writes letters to her estranged husband trying to understand what happened, and how much of the blame she holds.  Coleen Marlo narrates the novel, which was made into a movie in England starring Tilda Swinton.  Thought provoking and deeply engaging, the story is well told by Marlo, whose precise and listenable voice is augmented by a sensitivity to tone, making the letters come alive.  The writing is intelligent and well crafted, evoking consideration of how one parent can be blinded by optimism while the other is left to forge an understanding of cause and effect, leading to forgiveness.  The 2003 novel has just been released on audio, since the movie is getting a wider release in America.  The listener is left to think, if not to talk, about Kevin long afterward, given the honesty of the narrative and the twists of plot.  Companion books I recommend to this include "The Sociopath Next Door,"by Martha Stout, read by Shelly Frasier; "The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson; and "Columbine" by Dave Cullen, read by Don Leslie. 

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