We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

We Need To Talk About Kevin - A chilling story that will have your book group debating some hard issues - nature or nurture?

The story of a teenage boy who goes on a rampage, locking his class mates in the school gym and killing them all.

This is such a poignant subject matter given the number of similar crimes that have taken place recently, particularly in America, with innocent school children being killed by rogue gun men.

A chilling tale that will leave you asking - can you really blame the parents?


The story is told from the Mothers perspective, writing letters to her now estranged husband, wondering where it all went wrong.

Her son is in prison and she relives her sons childhood in the form of these letters, looking for clues as to how her son has ended up like this.

It also gives us an idea of what it must be like to be his mother, with the constant stares in the supermarket and endless graffiti splashed on her house.

The build up and  the actual "event" at the end of the book is probably the best part and the ending itself is fantastic (no spoilers here) - this part, in my opinion, is lost in the film.


Nature or Nurture

This is the key theme of We Need To Talk About Kevin and will have you and your book club debating for hours - Can  you blame the parents for the horrific outcome or is there evidence that Kevin was just born that way?

There is certainly evidence from both sides of the argument - his terrible behaviour from an early age, particularly towards his mother.

But it is also clear that there is much resentment from the mothers side - Did she really want a child in the first place? She desperately misses her travel writing and being able to jet across the world. Is it this lack of love that lead Kevin to become who he is today?


The characters in We Need To Talk About Kevin, are well developed and the intricacies of the relationships between father son, mother son, sister brother, husband and wife are very interesting. There is a complete breakdown in trust and communication for example between husband and wife, with the husband thinking that his son is almost perfect, believing that his wife is somewhat neurotic - if only he had taken her serious a bit earlier - could the awful situation have been stopped?


Wikipedia defies a sociopath as

"a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood".

It seems Kevin does portray this type of behaviour throughout the book but has an amazing ability to hide this from the majority of his family.


Discuss the ending of the book? Did you expect it?

Nature or Nurture - Which is more to blame for Kevin's behaviour?

If you were to blame the parents - which parent would you blame most. His mother or his father - Why?

Do you think Kevin did damage his sisters eye?

Is Kevin a sociopath - what evidence is there to suggest he is or is not?

Why do you think Kevin's Mum had another child?


A classic and probably all time book club favorite. We gave this book 9.5/10 - our highest score yet.

The book is a real page turner with an easy style - the letters really work in this respect.

The horrific event, the build up and impactful ending were enough to talk about in itself.

The discussion post the book was really interesting with lots of differing opinions on the nature nurture debate.

A real must for any book club.

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