This is not a book that immediately held my interest. Initially, I was immensely annoyed by the too-long-sentences that made me want...moreWhy We Broke Up?
This is not a book that immediately held my interest. Initially, I was immensely annoyed by the too-long-sentences that made me want to yell, "WHY DON'T YOU USE THE FULL-STOP ALREADY!!!' at the top of my lungs. Because, when sentences are that long without full-stops and you keep using the word 'and' which gives the impression that you are getting incoherent as your train of thoughts are spilled across the pages without considering that readers will eventually lose interest in what you've got to say and what you're actually saying and it's getting really hard to concentrate when I am just skimming the rest of your sentence in hope to finally meet the MASSIVELY OVERDUE full-stop so that my head can rest a little and take a breath before continue reading your subsequent long-winded narration but you just won't let me take a breather and you just go on and on and on and the long sentences gave me quite a headache, so yeah.
However, this book crept upon me slowly, drawing my reluctant interest, building to a climax which pulls ALL of my heartstrings, and collecting my grief for the heartbreak-to-come and then BOOM! Just like that, my overflowing sadness . It succeeded in changing my initial negative opinion of it, 180 degrees.
Let's start with Min Green. When I first read the book, I felt that I was in her head too much. I hated her ramblings. I hated that I didn't know all the old films that she mentioned (or are the films just made-up?). I hated her Arty, hated her Different. I thought her to be pretentious. But then, I realised that aren't all of us full with precocious affectations at that age, so eager to be a grown-up? Didn't we extracted personalities from our teen idols, experimented with some little quirks to establish our individuality? To tell the world that we are DIFFERENT from the ordinary? And then eventually, didn't some of those affectations we experimented with manifested themselves into our personalities, becoming an integral part of us that made us unique to some degree? That is Min Green.
I know Al. I have an Al in my life. Or, I should say that it's not so long ago that I had an Al in my life. (Reminder to self: Had. Had. Had. As in, PAST TENSE.) He, like Al, either kept silent or said I-have- no-opinion although he clearly had an opinion, just for the sake of appeasing me when he knew that our opinions were at extreme odds. Al is Min's constant - Her rock, her shoulder to cry on, her support system. He might not have liked al the things she did, but he was willing to compromise. That is Al. (Though, from my experience, there's no such thing as a guy best friend. You can never go back to that easy friendship you had after either one of you confesses that you have more than platonic feelings for the other person. There will be expectations, followed by disappointment and then resentment.)
Ed Slaterton. Damn you, Ed Slaterton. Damn all the Ed Slatertons in the world who broke our fragile little hearts for the very first time. They say they like DIFFERENT. They say they like INTERESTING. But at some point, DIFFERENT all looked the SAME to them when the sparkle of NEW fades off. In the end, they went back to familiar ground, because it's so much easier.
To be honest, I don't think Ed would have finished reading Min's letter of Why We Broke Up addressed to him. Ed is just not the kind of guy who would bother to dissect the anatomy of their love. For Min, maybe writing this break-up letter would prove to be therapeutic...
Why I can relate to Min Green? Both of us had loved an illusion, a man who is nothing but the perfect figments of our imagination. We so badly wanted him to fit into our lives like a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle, that we lose sight of reality.
One last thing to take note. From other reviews, I see that the physical book is not only a large and heavy volume, but also expensive. I think an ebook edition would suffice, because the hard cover copy is kind of overrated (in my personal opinion).
My favourite lines from the book:
“Either you have the feeling or you don't. Hawk Davies”
“Ed, it was everything, those nights on the phone, everything we said until late became later and then later and very late and finally to go to bed with my ear warm and worn and red from holding the phone close close close so as not to miss a word of what it was, because who cared how tired I was in the humdrum slave drive of our days without each other. I’d ruin any day, all my days, for those long nights with you, and I did. But that’s why right there it was doomed. We couldn’t only have the magic nights buzzing through the wires. We had to have the days, too, the bright impatient days spoiling everything with their unavoidable schedules, their mandatory times that don’t overlap, their loyal friends who don’t get along, the unforgiven travesties torn from the wall no matter what promises are uttered past midnight, and that's why we broke up.”(less)
I have always loved the idea of parallel worlds, and I think that is why I find this book an incredibly appealing read. I like how Shriver placed such...moreI have always loved the idea of parallel worlds, and I think that is why I find this book an incredibly appealing read. I like how Shriver placed such importance on a single moment, reminding us that not only are our actions consequential, but even the smallest, transient thoughts that run through our minds.
Perhaps some might find Irina self-destructive, but I think that it is her ability to practise mental kindness to the men in her life that made her so tolerant to both Ramsey and Lawrence's emotional abuse. In Irina's case, her kindness made her a vulnerable target to Lawrence's somewhat apathetic nature and to Ramsey's bullies.
Of course, this concept of parallel worlds also provide ample opportunity to explore the lives of living with the Reliable/ Predictable Guy vs. Spontaneous/ Passionate Guy. I love that Shriver did not favour one over the other, but rather gave her readers the idea of possibilities...(less)
Cassandra Clare was right when she warned us to be careful of what we choose to read, because words have the power to change us. "We Need to Talk Abou...moreCassandra Clare was right when she warned us to be careful of what we choose to read, because words have the power to change us. "We Need to Talk About Kevin" did exactly that - It changed my entire perception of what motherhood entails. I now realise how much active effort it takes to not only love your own children, but to also sincerely like them as individuals.
I will never again take for granted that having kids is a passive decision or the next logical step after marriage. This book makes me question the real motive of wanting to have kids. Is curiosity for what parenthood is like a good enough reason to reproduce? Can you really anticipate the disruption your kids will impose on your marriage and career, or would you resent them when it is too late to change your mind?
Kevin's apathetic approach to life was his 15-years-long revenge for his mother's resentment towards his birth. It exasperates me that he managed to make his life as meaningless as possible. It baffles me that even after shooting 11 people, he managed to make the entire affair pointless. Imagine having a kid who fights daily mind-battles with you, and gangs up with your husband on you. Imagine having a kid whose sole purpose in life is to secretly learn everything by himself (e.g. ABCs, 123s, feeding etc.) to render you as useless and as redundant a parent as possible, and to rob you of the satisfaction of teaching. I hate to say this, but I find Kevin's determination in keeping an apathetic façade for almost 18 years just to punish his mother rather impressive. Imagine waking up every day, making an active decision to stay indifferent to your surroundings, and fighting every impulse to show any emotional insight. It really is extremely unnatural.
Having never been a mother myself, it would not be fair for me to judge Eva Khatchadourian's character. I can only conclude that the complications of parenthood are unfathomable, and that the ability to make an emotional connection with your own child is not necessarily guaranteed.
My advice to others who have yet to read this book: 1. Do not watch the movie (starring Tilda Swinton) before reading. I watched the movie beforehand, and it ruined my reading experience. Swinton's acting was very believable, but I personally still felt that the movie did not do the book enough justice. 2. Have an Oxford English Mini-dictionary with you because Shriver's vocabulary is so extensive that there would be at least 5 words you would not understand on EACH PAGE. 3. Be prepared for some very heavy and dark material that would leave you exhausted by the end of it. 4. READ IT ALREADY IF YOU HAVEN'T!
SPOILER ALERT: I find the ending both exasperating and intriguing. Shriver gave us no answer as to whether it was Eva Khatchadourian's fault (e.g. lack of maternal instinct, resentment) that drove Kevin to kill. She also left us to ponder endlessly on WHY Kevin did it. MAYBE THE SECRET IS THAT THERE IS NO SECRET. Perhaps that's the only reason why Kevin did it. But to me, the journey was worth the ending.
Tame house dog biting the face of a little girl. Furniture coming to life. Inexplicable burn marks all over ceiling and walls. Fire. Child-like scribb...moreTame house dog biting the face of a little girl. Furniture coming to life. Inexplicable burn marks all over ceiling and walls. Fire. Child-like scribblings on walls, spelling out the name of the family's dead eldest daughter. Seeing shadows, hearing noises. Going insane. Deaths. THIS BOOK SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF ME. I finished reading this yesterday night, and did not dare to go to bed until 5 a.m. (with the lights on). A great read, if you want to freak yourself out.
Reasons why I gave this a rating of only 3 stars:
1. The book failed to hold my interest the first time I read it about a year ago - I did not get beyond the first 50 pages. The beginning was too slow-paced. While I think it is necessary to give readers a wholesome idea of the dying way of life at Hundreds for the old gentry family, I think it could be done in shorter chapters. Things only started to get interesting after the first 130 pages. Now deciding to give this another try and reading it second time round, it still took a great deal of effort to persevere and endure the very long-winded beginning.
2. The time gap between the weird things starting up again at Hundreds was too long - After Roderick left, nothing exciting happens for a long time --> BORING.
3. This small thing of Faraday that irritates me - His emphasis on Caroline's fat stockinged leg.
4. I did not like the ambiguous ending. I would have preferred it if this book was straight-out a horror story, centering on the family's eldest daughter who died 30 years ago coming back as a spiteful ghost to wreak havoc at Hundreds. Instead, I am left speculating whether the weird things that went on at Hundreds was due to delusions of the mentally unstable, or due to the doings of a poltergeist.
Why I am confused about the ending (SPOILER ALERT AHEAD!!!):
All along, I have always thought that it was Susan Ayres who was that unseen poltergeist, being woken up after all these years by some unknown negative energy due to the declining state at Hundreds. Probably she tormented her family because she felt cheated of life, having died so young. She had a great childhood where she was the apple of her mother's eye, and so she felt possessive of her mother's love and extremely jealous of her younger siblings who got to have a longer time with her mother and a greater share of love than she could have. She felt a certain possessiveness for Hundreds, because there was where she was happy and content, safe in her mother's love. I thought that was why she drove Rod insane to kick him out from Hundreds. I thought that was why she tormented her mother to join her in death. At least that was what I thought until Caroline died. It makes no sense to kill off Caroline after Susan got what she wanted (assuming that having her mother and Hundreds all to herself was what she wanted)- Caroline had already decided to leave Hundreds.
Thinking from the other point of view, I still think it seems very unlikely that this is a psychological thriller. Like Faraday said, the cumulative effect is just too absurd. If it was a singular event of Rod having delusions, it is within the realm of logic. But, when every single person living at Hundreds have the same experience? Don't tell me everyone's having delusions.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO THINK. WHAT IS THIS. A PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER OR A GHOST STORY???!!! THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!!! (less)
A very intriguing opening to what must be an emotionally-packed thriller from Dorothy Koomson. Really, really looking forward to her newest work, beca...moreA very intriguing opening to what must be an emotionally-packed thriller from Dorothy Koomson. Really, really looking forward to her newest work, because Koomson's writing has the power to pull all your heartstrings at the right places, leaving you devastated and emotionally wrecked at the climax.