To say that I am reluctant to recommend Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin is a vast understatement. Don't get me wrong, I loved this book. But, it is not for the faint of heart and I think it takes a certain kind of reader, someone not afraid to plumb the depths of not-kind humanity.
I don't think I've ever read anything so profoundly disturbing for its "honesty"--a truth told by a narrator who is not, despite what she has been through, likable. Or even necessarily forgivable. The novel is told through a series of letters written by a mother to her husband after their son has killed several of his classmates. Throughout, she tries to make sense of where she went wrong but yet, at the same time, her voice sizzles with anger. I had a hard time feeling sorry for Eva, which made the story all the more compelling for me. Too rich, too sure of herself, too focused on her work--she is prickly in a way that makes her heartbreakingly human.
Not an easy read, this is the first book in a very long time that has literally given me nightmares. And I don't even have children! So, you've been warned. But let me say also that this is a book that takes a haunting look at the small things we do, the lies we tell ourselves, the ways in which we get by. I will not soon forget it.