Welcome to the first ever
where I'll be discussing the book(s) I read over the weekend.
#SpoilerAlert: Please note that this is more of a discussion than a review.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
"Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails."
We need to talk about film adaptations, as well as the power of point of view.
First I must say, this story is definitely easier to process while reading, rather than being presented this whole tale within 2 hours.
The other major difference between the book and film is going from first person to third person. In the movie, I would think the omniscient point of view would force us to divide our sympathies, but rather we're really coerced into being infuriated by Franklin. From a viewer's standpoint, Kevin is an evil child and Franklin is too love-blinded to see it.
There are some of these instances in the book. For example, when Eva and Kevin are having a rivalry over a water gun, Franklin says to his son, "The movers peed their pants, but Mommer pooped the party." It's almost as if Kevin and Franklin are Eva's brothers rather than her son and husband.
But rather than being overloaded with these scenes in the novel, we instead see a bit more reason to point the finger at Eva. In first person, Eva wants to be prejudiced against Franklin's parenting, but she can't let us inside her head without letting pieces of her escape. It is these pieces that have me considering that Kevin may have been a better child if he had been raised by a different mother.
I say may because something like this is really hard to determine. You can't separate Kevin and Eva's stories. They are and always will be intertwined. Yes, Kevin has psychological issues, but Eva isn't helping them. Her disdain for her child and it's influence on her parenting comes into play before Kevin is ever conceived.
In the letter on December 8th, Eva says some very cold things about the prospect of motherhood. One line stood out to me in particular, "I would let parenthood influence our behavior; you would have parenthood dictate our behavior."
On Pg 72, she says, "Indeed, an honest list of all that I did not want to nurture, from the garden-variety moron to the grotesquely overweight, might run damningly to a second page."
And in the December 9, 2000 letter she says, "He must of previously recognized that I had a life, in order to go about ruining it with such a sense of purpose." This quote is immediately followed by a confrontation with Kevin in which she tells him that his behavior is what turned her sour to motherhood. Do you believe her? From what she said in the previous chapter, do you think that she would have had a different outlook with a different child?
Similarly, shortly after Kevin's birth, the doctor tells her that she's suffering from post-natal depression, but what's to say it isn't pre-natal depression. How do we know that there wasn't a sense of dread that pre-existed Kevin and influenced his development.
Also, the first person has me wondering if these letters are Eva's way of taking blame/responsibility for her mental state during Kevin's childhood or is she using this as an excuse. She's definitely a complex character!
Alright folks, who's read Kevin? I'd love to hear your thoughts!