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We need to talk about Kevin

by Lionel Shriver

Although an Orange Prize book, when I suggested this as my 'treat' as part of the Opening the Book online training programme other participants tried it and didn't like it at all - it had me hooked almost from the first page - an interesting approach to a contemporary topic.

Suggested by Julia Tooke, Shropshire

Tagged with: amazing. challenging, compelling disturbing emotional fascinating good gripping hard horrifying, horrifyingly intriguing memorable society stunning



A fantastic book. We hear about high school shootings in America but to actually be involved in the family is a real insight. This is one of the best books that I have read, and although I read it several years ago, it is a book that you don't forget, it stays with you. READ THIS BOOK.
Sue C. Grimsby
Our reading group found this was a real 'Marmite' book - you either love it or hate it! Opinion was strongly divided but I loved it and didn't see the ending coming - it made me gasp with shock. It was on my 16 year old daughter's reasdingl ist from school and I recommended that she read it too - she was stunned. Unlike 'Annastasia', I have read all of Lionel Shriver's follow-up books - they are so different to 'Kevin' and I enjoyed all of them in different ways.
Kim, Langley Mill
An amazing and disturbing book. I wasn't left with a definite idea about the wrongs and rights of the situation and on occassion find myself pondering pondering what happened, what would have changed things and even if a different outcome was possible. I've recommnded it to many. however I have no desire to read any of her other work. This is strange as usually I am thrilled to discover a new author with a back catalogue.
There are not many books I can read in a car but this one I was compelled to continue reading driving home from holiday, I needed to know how it was going to end. A very disturbing but compelling read
Jane, Bishop's Stortford
I have just finished this book (an hour ago). I found it hard at the start, the self absorbed ramblings of the mother were hard going. I thought I might give up on it but then became drawn in. I found it annoying that it was written as a series of letters. However, horrifyingly intriguing is my category for it.
I thoroughly agree with Susan Morris. This novel covers unpalatable subjects - really well! It is frighteningly real - I too sometimes wish I'd never read it!
Brenda, Surrey
Like you, Julia, I read this during a frontline module - but as a challenge, rather than treat, as I've previously read Lionel Shriver's articles in the Guardian and have been deterred by her style. To me her voice sounds so detached sometimes, it's almost contemptuous. So my expectations of staying with Kevin were not high! - but, though I did find the first part of the book fairly slow, like you, I became hooked by the story. Increasingly, I found myself wondering how reliable the mother was as the main source of information and found her self-absorption deeply irritating at times. But I really felt it gained momentum and I found myself hurtling towards the end, staying awake to finish it. Certainly worth sticking with it past the first 100 pages!
AW, Slough
I could not put this book down. It was gripping, disturbing, and like others have already said it has stayed with me for a long time.
I am really torn. Like Bookworm, i gave up on it. But i am constantly drawn back to it. Maybe one day i will give it another go. The comment by Susan Morris about wishing she'd never read it puts me off .
Jackie Hughes
I read this Book with my Reading Group and everyone thought it an amazing book. There was so much to talk about- some told for the first time how they had felt as if there was something wrong with them when they did not instantly bond with their babies. Discussion topics apart, this is a very disturbing and thought-provoking book, easy to read, hard to forget.
Carole Stuart
I found it hard to get into - I didn't like the mother (but then perhaps thats part of the point) who narrates the story. By about a third of thge way through I was becoming hooked, and in the end it was one of the most amazing books I have read. I was stunned that even though you know from page one what it is that Kevin has done, there is still a horrifying surprise to the ending. An astounding book.
Linne from jersey
I read this as one of our reader group books a couple of years ago and I still cannot forget it. It was horrifyingly good. Extremely well written but sometimes I wish I had never read it. Very distressing in parts.
Susan Morris
a very memorable book. It lives with you long after the book is finished. Very unsettling but very readable.
Janice Smith
I found this book really hard to read, in terms of the language rather than the subject. Unfortunately I gave up on it, which I don't do often or lightly. Maybe one day I'll go back and try again.
the bookworm
When I first saw this book and read the blurb I thought - that's not for me! I don't want to read a book about a mass-murderer! However, one of my library reading group read it and raved about it, so we decided we all would read it. That was over a year ago and we're still talking about it! Every meeting we mention it and, if a meeting is coming to an end and we haven't mentioned it, someone says - we haven't talked about Kevin - and off we go again. I found it a riveting read and it kept me gasping right to the end.
I agree with you Julia. I thought the book was excellent.
Debby Skerrett

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