Shriver approaches the tragedy of a high-school massacre from the point of view of the killer's mother. Eva, in the letters she writes to her estranged husband, probes the upbringing of their more-than-difficult child and reveals herself to have been a reluctant mother. As the schisms in her family unfold, the story draws closer to an unexpected ...
Shriver approaches the tragedy of a high-school massacre from the point of view of the killer's mother. Eva, in the letters she writes to her estranged husband, probes the upbringing of their more-than-difficult child and reveals herself to have been a reluctant mother. As the schisms in her family unfold, the story draws closer to an unexpected climax that holds breathtaking surprises and its own hard-won redemption.
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-03-24 A number of fictional attempts have been made to portray what might lead a teenager to kill a number of schoolmates or teachers, Columbine style, but Shriver's is the most triumphantly accomplished by far. A gifted journalist as well as the author of seven novels, she brings to her story a keen understanding of the intricacies of marital and parental relationships as well as a narrative pace that is both compelling and thoughtful. Eva Khatchadourian is a smart, skeptical New Yorker whose impulsive marriage to Franklin, a much more conventional person, bears fruit, to her surprise and confessed disquiet, in baby Kevin. From the start Eva is ambivalent about him, never sure if she really wanted a child, and he is balefully hostile toward her; only good-old-boy Franklin, hoping for the best, manages to overlook his son's faults as he grows older, a largely silent, cynical, often malevolent child. The later birth of a sister who is his opposite in every way, deeply affectionate and fragile, does nothing to help, and Eva always suspects his role in an accident that befalls little Celia. The narrative, which leads with quickening and horrifying inevitability to the moment when Kevin massacres seven of his schoolmates and a teacher at his upstate New York high school, is told as a series of letters from Eva to an apparently estranged Franklin, after Kevin has been put in a prison for juvenile offenders. This seems a gimmicky way to tell the story, but is in fact surprisingly effective in its picture of an affectionate couple who are poles apart, and enables Shriver to pull off a huge and crushing shock far into her tale. It's a harrowing, psychologically astute, sometimes even darkly humorous novel, with a clear-eyed, hard-won ending and a tough-minded sense of the difficult, often painful human enterprise. 4-city author tour. (May) Forecast: The subject, unfortunately, is nearly always timely, and this by no means sensationalist account can be confidently sold as the best novel of its kind; in fact, the extent of the author's insights should make her very promotable. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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