I finished this book yesterday, after a month or so of intense companionship.
I first was infatuated with the book, but after a hundred pages, I loved it: I always had to read more of it, whenever I had five minutes to myself, but I was well unable to form a distinct opinion about it.
It's by far the most discomforting book that I've read in quite a while. Lionel Shriver, the author, has a very smart way of writing, in her style as well as in her ideas and their chronology. Yet, you're almost bound to think at some point: "This woman is completely nuts, or at least rather daring, to write such a story..."
Let me explain: We Need to Talk About Kevin is the compilation of the letters that Eva Katchadourian, a New-York intellectual of Armenian descent, writes to her estranged husband, about the childhood of their son, Kevin, who killed 7 students and 2 adults in his school two weeks before "Columbine" and three days before his 16th birthday.
Eva admits to never having really liked Kevin, a child she had in her late thirties, partly to please her man. From his birth onwards, the relationship between this somewhat cold mother and her angry, proud and whimsical son has been a permanent war.
We only have Eva's version of things, so it's hard to decipher "truth" from "construct", but I am not sure that such a distinction makes much sense; we have access to Eva's disturbing truth.
The novel takes the risk to address taboo questions concerning motherhood and the sacrifices it implies, filiation, the opposition between nature and nurture. The reader comes out of it a bit shaken, with shivers down the spine and a certain humility before such a powerful yet fine read. A book those who will be able to overcome their possible rejection of such literary and feminine audacity (not to say insolence) should most certainly read!