Book Review: We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

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We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver is a disturbing fiction novel that is written through the medium of a series of letters from a wife to her husband. The letters detail their married life together, but mostly discuss their son, Kevin. We Need to Talk About Kevin explores the world of school shootings and the teenagers who commit them through the heartbreaking guilt, sorrow and love of a mother who has lost everything due to the actions of a son she is not sure she ever loved.

After reading We Need to Talk about Kevin, I am of the opinion that Lionel Shriver is a genius. This novel is well-crafted, insightful, disgusting, horrifying, heartbreaking, heartwarming and everything in-between. Lionel drags the reader into loving and hating every character, save one, who you can only love. She makes you feel sorry for a sociopath while hating him. She presents a series of moral and social conundrums that perfectly reflect the reality of violence.

I cannot bring myself to write a long review of this novel, though I have a great deal to say. My reason for this is that I do not want to give away a single aspect of We Need to Talk about Kevin. I urge everyone who reads this to pick up this novel. Of course, you should all also be warned that We Need to Talk about Kevin is not pleasant. On the contrary, it is so intelligently written that the subject matter can be nothing short of distressing in the adept hands of Lionel Shriver.

Update: This novel has since been made into an immensely enjoyable film starring Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller. If you don't enjoy reading (which would be odd considering you are here), go right ahead and jump into the film. If you love a good book, I'd go with the book first, of course. 

Shelly Barclay


  1. I've never heard of this book - but you've got me. I'll be finding it.