Lionel Shriver – We need to talk about Kevin.


c. Year of publication:2003

d. Number of points:3

e. Number of pages: 403

2. Analyse van een aantal aspecten

a. Summarize in one sentence what the book is about.

I find it very hard to describe this book in one sentence. If I had to choose it would be a mothers complicated love.

b. Write a summary in your own words of about 400-600 words.

Eva writes her story in letters The letters are written after murders and they are written to her husband, Franklin Plaskett. In these letters she is telling the story of her life. She starts with her relationship with Franklin before they had kids. Afterwards she is talking about how Kevin grew up and how she viewed him. She tells you some stuff she wanted to keep secret like how she got really mad at Kevin and broke his arm by ‘accident’. When she visits Kevin in prison in the book you can feel the cold and almost non-existent relationship.

In the book Kevin is portrayed as a sociopath. Kevin seems to hate everyone, but he seems to hate his mom even more. He is sabotaging her since a young age by doing things that seem innocent like ruining her room wallpapered with maps. There is one thing Kevin likes and that is: Archery. He loved archery ever since he read Robin hood while he was still small.

As Kevin’s behavior becomes worse, Franklin starts to become protective ,thinking that his son is norma and that there should be an explanation for everything he is doing. Kevin is acting out the part of a loving son when Franklin is there but Eva sees trough that. This creates tension between Eva and Franklin that never stops, not that long before the murders Franklin is asking for a divorce.

Kevin’s sister Celia is born mostly because Eva wanted to bond with an member of her family. While Celia is six years old, she has a household accident in which drain cleaner makes her lose an eye. This is linked to an the disappearance of Celia’s rodents, because Eva is using a drain leaner to clear a blockage in the sink.. Though it is never proven, Eva believes that Kevin, who was watching his sister at the time, poured the drain cleaner onto his little sister’s face, after telling her he was cleaning her eye because there was something in it.

Eva finally reveals that Franklin and Celia are no longer alive, Kevin killed them with his bow before he used the same weapon to attack nine schoolmates, a cafeteria worker and a teacher. Eva thinks he killed Franklin and Celia because he overheard her and Franklin discussing a divorce, he thought Franklin would get custody, so he would never have final victory over his mother.

The book ends at the second anniversary of the murders, three days before Kevin will turn eighteen and be transferred. Subdued and frightened, he tries to make up with Eva by giving her Celia’s glass eye to bury, and he tells her that he is sorry. Eva asks Kevin why he committed the murders, and Kevin tells her he is no longer sure. They hug and Eva says that she finally loves her son.

c. Describe the theme in one word.


d. Describe the main character in detail.

Eva is an independent woman, she does not like to depend on others. She is adventurous, sexually but travel wise as well. She has written her own travel book and is very proud of that. She is a slender woman. At first she did not want children because she was afraid to change.

e. Describe 2 other characters.

Kevin is Eva’s son he is 15 when the murders take place and 18 at the end of the book. He has the character traits of a sociopath.

Franklin: Franklin is Eva’s husband he really wanted children and was very happy when they were there. He is very naïve, he believes his children so much he lost track of reality.

f. Describe the place(s) where the story is set in detail.

The story is written in letter form but in the letters she is mostly in the suburbs of conneticut while raising her kids in there house.

g. When does the story take place? (How do you know? What is the length of time of the story? Is the story told chronologically? Does the author use flashbacks? Explain in detail!)

I would not dare to guess a year but I think the end of the 90’s. The story is chronological yet not, because she is telling it chronological but it is all 1 big flashback.

h. Who is the person who tells the story (the narrator)? (Does the author tell the story, or is the story told from the point of view of one of the characters? Explain.)

i. Give an explanation of the title.

j. Is the book just meant as a story or is the author trying to bring across a message? If so: why? If not: why not?

3. Leesbeleving en evaluatie

I personally really loved this book it had me thinking about motherhood, growing up and well…life. I cried some tears had some laughs but this book was really intruiging. I would recommend the book to my cassmates though I doubt they will like it, the writing style is hard to get through for a lot of people. The moment that will probably stay with me for a long time is when Kevin tells his mom he is no longer sure about why he committed the murders it really made me think about why he did it and his sickness. The only disappointing thing about this book that it is sometimes a bit lng-winded.

4. Finally, roughly how much time did you spend reading the book?

6 Hours.

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