Thursday, April 5, 2007
I am currently struggling through Lionel Shriver's latest The Post-Birthday World, which is disappointing because her Kevin is one of the most memorable books I've ever read. Despite its flaws, I wanted to push this book on everyone I met just so I had someone to talk about it with. The book takes the form of letters from Eva to her absent husband two years after their son, Kevin, kills several classmates in a Columbine-like incident. In the letters, Eva tries to figure out what went wrong and how much responsibility she should bear. Eva was ambivalent about having children to begin with and the early questions that are raised about why people have children hooked me in from the very beginning. Kevin was a difficult child and he and Eva never really bonded. Whether Kevin is irredeemably bad is a question mark, as Eva is definitely an unreliable narrator. I did have some problems with the book, I think Shriver tried too much to make Kevin different than typical teenage shooters, i.e. he wears his clothes too tight and his weapon of choice is a bow-and-arrow. Despite this, throughout the book raises a lot of questions about marriage, parenthood, nature v. nurture and much more. I unfortunately have a tendency to forget much of what happens in a book after reading it, but there are scenes in this book that I still think about several years after reading it, including when Eva meets the mother of a victim in the grocery store, the gift Kevin gives his mother while in prison, and the last scene. This is a great book for book clubs to pick!