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Monthly Book Discussion > We Need to Talk About Kevin - Week 4

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Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
By now, we should be done reading this book. Here is the last selection

August 22-31: HC pages 284 (March 8, 2001) through 400 (Final page of book)

Here is the entire set of questions for the book. Since we are finished, anything can be discussed this week.

1. Non-maternal, ambivalent mothers are one of the last taboos -- and Eva is a prime example. Were her motives for having a baby entirely selfish? And if so, how much can that have factored into the outcome of an abnormally difficult baby and apathetic child? In contrast to Kevin, Celia was loving, needy and sweet -- and her mother's favorite, if not her father's. By the very end of the novel, has Eva's love for Kevin, or at least her primitive loyalty to him, finally become unconditional? How does this fit in with the feminist ideal of motherhood?

2. Is Eva's view of Kevin colored by her ambivalence about motherhood in general, or perhaps by hindsight knowledge of his eventual violence? Is Eva responsible for creating a child she sees as a monster, or was he a monster all along?

3. Eva's tone changes throughout the course of her letter-writing. She is in turns angry, frustrated and mystified. Could you describe Eva as a loving mother -- in deed if not in thought? Was Kevin overly indulged by a parenting style that let him potty train and learn at his own pace?

4. Did the inclusion of a child into Eva and Franklin's stable, loving relationship cause the rift between them? Did the fact of a child threaten their marriage? How was Kevin perceived as a threat by Eva from conception? What expectations did Eva have of motherhood and how did she meet the reality of it? Was Franklin unsupportive of Eva?

5. The irony of Eva having read Robin Hood to an ailing, needy Kevin at a time of almost shocking mother-son bonding is played out in the way Kevin massacred his fellow students and the teacher who took an interest in him. Since it is Eva who connects Kevin's fevered state with her recollection of his unusual interest in anything whatsoever, is it possible that Kevin's methods were meant to figuratively slay his mother?

6. After Eva throws Kevin across the room, she takes him to the hospital. She confesses later on to Franklin, "However much I deserved rebuke, I still preferred the slow burn of private self-excoriation to the hot lash of public reproof." Are Eva's letters to Franklin her form of self-excoriation, though she is suffering public reproof as the mother of a mass murderer?

7. Does Eva feel responsible for Kevin's series of nasty deeds and childhood "pranks?" Does she think she could have prevented any of it? Does she come to realize why Kevin would harm other children or does she give up trying to understand? How can we sympathize with a mother and father who saw all the warning signs but failed to stop the violence?

8. Given that the story is told from Eva's perspective only, can she be trusted as reliable? How do you think Franklin's version of events would have differed? Might Eva choose to portray Kevin in childhood as more wicked than he really was, if only to make her seem less culpable for his crimes as a teenager?

9. What were Eva's reasons for having a second child? Did Franklin forgive her for the deception? Was she repentant? How closely were her expectations met and was she gratified? How did Franklin's attitude toward Kevin and Celia differ?

10. Toward the end of the novel, it is revealed that Kevin has more complicated feelings about his mother and some of the 9 people he murdered. This gives us a hint as to why he might have carefully planned and carried out Thursday. Does he seem pathetic or more deserving of compassion because he may have had a motive, after all?

11. At the conclusion of the novel, did you find Eva sympathetic in a way you may not have initially? Do you think Eva has sympathy and forgiveness for herself? Is she able to accept Kevin, and to see his personality as, however uncomfortably, akin to her own?


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Sorry I have been absent the last week everyone! My daughter started school and it has been a hectic week.

The other thing is that I needed some time after reading Kevin.

Even now, I'm having trouble reading the questions and trying to discuss this book. How? How can you put words to what this book made you feel?

I had a feeling early on that Franklin was dead. It didn't occur to me that Kevin killed him and Celia though.

As I'm thinking back on the rest of the book, I don't know why Eva became such a target for the people in her town. How could anyone bring a lawsuit against her? Her family was killed too. Did people just forget that? Think that she deserved it?

I'm mad at her for staying. She was terrified of Kevin and she stayed. She left Celia with him on a number of occasions. Why didn't it occur to her to get her daughter and get away from him?

Well...I guess maybe I understand her neighbors after all. I'm angry with her. I don't understand why she didn't DO something.

Blah! This book left me reeling...I'm still reeling.

Question 8. I don't know that I believe Eva is trying to exaggerate Kevin and his childhood. Unless she's lying to herself. No one is going to read the letters so I don't see who she is appealing to, other than herself. Maybe she felt guilty??

Question 9. No. I don't think Eva was repentant. She wanted a second child to prove something. To prove that Kevin was evil. Neither of her pregnancies were for love and the want of having a child. I believe both were selfish acts on Eva's part.

Question 10. Honestly, I don't care if Kevin had a motive or not. His actions were unacceptable. I have trouble having any kind of sympathy or compassion for him...but when I think of him, I feel a tug at my heartstrings.


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Oh! One other thing. When I closed the book, I felt...hollow.

I posted on FB that I was starving...but I really think I just felt so empty and hollowed out after reading that book that I felt like there was nothing left in me. Does that make sense? Anyone else have that reaction?


message 4: by Carol (new)

Carol E. (mngiraffe) Oh, yes, I was reeling and felt hollow, also. I was maybe missing some clues, but I had no idea that Franklin was dead, so the ending came as a total shock to me. And that he killed Celia, too. It was just appalling. And I also had assumed he would do the modern thing and use a gun. But a cross-bow?? Ohh... ewww.. it just completely freaked me out. And when Eva found them... it was so creepy and yet she wasn't surprised.

I felt tremendous sympathy for Eva in the end. I was so angry at her all the way through. She never should have had a baby in the first place. Then to have a second, when she knew how evil Kevin was.. and then to leave the daughter alone with Kevin. That was incomprehensible to me. And yet i could relate to her and her connection to Kevin and her love/bond with him, however you want to call it.

This book definitely took a toll, and yet it is very thought provoking. It left a HUGE unaswered question, is evil inate or is it learned? How much "fault" lies with both/either Eva and/or Franklin? The nature vs nurture question is too big to answer. And kind of scary to contemplate, really. I mean, if it's all just nature... can someone be born and just turn out like Kevin no matter how fabulous his parents may be?? Scary to think of it. I tend to think not. I tend to at least hope that a Kevin-type child could have been helped and nurtured along to be a better person.

My feelings toward Kevin are confusing. I disliked him so much, all the way through the book. And yet that part of me that thinks people can be helped by love felt so sad for him. If he could have applied his brilliance to some positive direction.. just imagine. In the end I felt like he was going to feel satisfied and comfortable just hanging out in prison forever. It's a place where he can just be creepy and manipulative always. Ewww.

What a book!!! Amazing, creepy, and excellent.


message 5: by Lady Day (new)

Lady Day (LadyDay) | 228 comments This book made me angry, sympathetic, confused, shocked and livid. Many times throughout the story I found myself wanting to help Kevin. I guess I want to believe that LOVE can indeed change the true nature of a person. If this is true, then the opposite must also be true....the lack of LOVE also can be to one's detriment.

Eva...smh!


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Oh, yes, I was reeling and felt hollow, also. I was maybe missing some clues, but I had no idea that Franklin was dead, so the ending came as a total shock to me. And that he killed Celia, too. It ..."

So did your opinion/view of Kevin change at the end when he seemed...different. He seemed scared to me. He was no longer going to be with kids, he was moving up to a real prison and he was no longer going to be "king of the castle." When he gave Eva Celia's eye, he almost seemed remorseful to me.

Did you feel that? Did you feel compassion for him then?


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Lady Day wrote: "This book made me angry, sympathetic, confused, shocked and livid. Many times throughout the story I found myself wanting to help Kevin. I guess I want to believe that LOVE can indeed change the ..."

It's crazy how many emotions this one book has stirred up in each of us. I still find myself shaking my head at random points throughout the day and saying "Oh Kevin." No one around me understands though since they haven't read it.


message 8: by Lady Day (new)

Lady Day (LadyDay) | 228 comments Maranda wrote: "Lady Day wrote: "This book made me angry, sympathetic, confused, shocked and livid. Many times throughout the story I found myself wanting to help Kevin. I guess I want to believe that LOVE can i..."

I find myself doing the same thing from time to time.


message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol E. (mngiraffe) Oh, yes.. i forgot to mention that about compassion for Kevin. I most definitely felt it. Like Lady Day, I believe LOVE can make a big difference. I felt really bad for him, and my mom-self ached at having him facing adult prison.


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Honestly, the more I get away from the book, the more compassion I seem to have for Kevin. He was obviously a disturbed little boy who turned into a disturbed young man. My heart aches for him. Does anyone think that some kind of intervention early in life may have prevented this tragedy?

Also, has anyone seen the movie yet? I don't know if I can...


message 11: by Carol (new)

Carol E. (mngiraffe) I tried to find the movie here, but it was only being shown in very limited places. One was an art museum where only members could get in. All I've seen is a movie teaser, and in that small excerpt, I thought they had the perfect person for the Eva character.

I don't know if I can watch it, either, but I'd like to find it and see... esp if it is on Netflix or somewhere online, I could easily turn it off or leave the room.


message 12: by Carol (new)

Carol E. (mngiraffe) Oh, and your question about intervention.. I think it would have had to be a really deep connection and LONG TERM and almost full time to have made a difference for Kevin. I am saying this from some family experience.. The home environment has a HUGE impact; trying to help is like wading upstream. You really have to be determined and make it long term.

OTOH, I also believe that we can make a difference and we often don't know how big an impact we have made. Sometimes just a simple comment or friendly gesture can offer hope to someone in a bad situation.


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Oh, and your question about intervention.. I think it would have had to be a really deep connection and LONG TERM and almost full time to have made a difference for Kevin. I am saying this from som..."

I guess I just wonder...especially by his behavior at the end...do you think that all he needed was to feel loved? They say that kids and animals have a sixth sense of sorts. They tend to know things. Maybe he felt the feelings, or lack thereof, from his mother from day one. If she had loved him, really loved him, do you think he would have turned out differently?


message 14: by Beth (new)

Beth I know it's been a while now but I'm still struggling to get through this book! I want to finish as I want to read more about her/franklin and her daughter, but every page I read actually makes me angrier and angrier.

Not only is Eva completely reckless having a child she doesn't want, I can't figure out how her and Franklin worked as a couple pre-Kevin. So far (I'm almost halfway through the book), they've agreed on absolutely bugger all. Whether Kevin was a naturally evil child or not, his upbringing is going to affect him somehow, especially as his parents will never agree whether or not to punish or reward him over everything.

Even though I feel they should never have had a child together, I find myself blaming Franklin for a lot of it. He always seems to be able to attribute Kevins behaviour to 'a phase' or, 'he doesn't know its wrong'.... He's never going to know right/wrong if you don't tell him!! ARGGHHH!!!


What I would like to ask you all is this.... is the book worth finishing? Or will it make me even angrier? haha.

Also, parents of the group... Who's the better parent, Franklin or Eva?x


message 15: by Lori (new)

Lori | 23 comments Beth I think the book is worth finishing. I messaged Maranda as soon as I was done and said its tough but there is definitely closure from all that took place. I don't think either Eva or Franklin were very good parents (I am not a parent myself). I think that Eva's lack of love made her a bad parent and Franklin's constant turning a blind eye was frustrating. They should have worked together more to become better parents and better to each other. Eva quotes many of their conversations word-for-word but were they actually talking to each about problems or talking at each other about the things they notice in their daily lives?

In my opinion, Eva and Franklin could have intervened with Kevin but what would that have done for Kevin when he was a young child? I'm sure that a psychiatrist would tell me it would have helped him deal with his inner issues and hopefully would have eventually brought up what really bothers him (his mom has never loved him, he doesn't know what love is, those who "have it all" bother him). I think we can say that part of what drove Kevin to commit the shootings was Eva's lack of love for him, but Kevin never does admit truly what drove him to do it. He even says he's not sure why, he thought he used to know, but is no longer sure of it. I'm sure there are other reasons in his mind that caused him to commit the murders, but we don't know what they are.

I know Eva feels sorry for Kevin that he's on his way to an adult facility but honestly I hope it would do him good. I don't think it'll change him completely tough and I'd be afraid of how long it would take him to act out again once he's released. Again, I think this plays on Eva not being a good parent, she's lost everything and puts up a smoke screen to the only thing she has left, the one person who took it away from her, it seems that she's putting all that she had for Franklin and Celia and all she gained from the experience into Kevin because she has nothing else.


message 16: by Michelle (new)

Michelle To be honest I stopped reading after 50 pages. I didnt like it and thought it was kinda scary. it makes me wonder about the violence that goes on today. Sorry everyone but I didnt like this one.


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Beth ~ I think it was worth finishing as well. I find myself thinking of Kevin often.

Michelle ~ I'm sorry you didn't care for this one. Hopefully some of the future selections will be more to your liking. :-)


message 18: by Lori (new)

Lori | 23 comments Michelle - I agree it was a tough read, scary and a hard pill to swallow. I definitely put myself way outside if my comfort zone. Hopefully you'll enjoy our future selections as Maranda said.


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