It’s been a week or two since an installment of Something Old, Something New (SOSN) has been posted. The way this works is simple. Something Old is a book I’ve read and Something New is one I haven’t.
When I was selecting the books for my True Crime week, I came across two books that I felt would be perfect for this genre and SOSN.
With one slight caveat: my Something Old is fiction. But, my dear bookworms, it (sadly and most horrifyingly) could very well be non-fiction. So I went ahead and added it to the mix.
You can be the judge of whether you think it was an appropriate choice.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver is a book I read several years ago and continues to remain on my top ten list of favorite books. No one had recommended this book to me, but rather I kept seeing it at my local used book shop. Every time I came across this book I would find myself thinking that it had a strange title. I can’t really explain why the title is strange to me, maybe because it seems so plain. I don’t know.
One day I finally grabbed it and stuck in my stack to buy. I didn’t read it right away either. I had never read anything by Lionel Shriver and totally assumed Lionel was a man (the only Lionel I had ever heard of has a last name of Richie), but he is actually a she. It doesn’t matter in the whole scheme of things, just a little food for thought (that, and you can correctly refer to LS as a she if this book were to ever come up in conversation. You’re welcome).
More time went by. One afternoon I was looking at stack of unread books and WNTTAK just kind of slightly screamed, Read me right now. Since I don’t like being screamed at, even when it’s silent screaming (fyi: only books know how to silently scream), I said, Ok, you’ve made your point, I’ll read you right now.
This book is a million things.
You know right from the start that Kevin is in prison because he has killed seven of his high-school classmates and two others right before his sixteenth birthday.
Much of this book is in the form of letters from Kevin’s mother Eva, to her estranged husband, Franklin.
The story opens in the present but revisits the past before Kevin’s birth and begins the rest of the story from that beginning. The rest of the book goes back and forth between those two time periods.
Eva is a complicated woman. I think many may not like her, and some may even vilify her. I found her quite genuine and honest with her feelings, and if for that reason alone, I like her. Even if she isn’t/wasn’t the most maternal, she never tries to hide that fact. She questioned having children from the very beginning and in my opinion was never a hundred percent for it. But having children is one of those things you can’t compromise on, you have them or you don’t. I do feel that she loved/loves Kevin, but people show love in different ways. Sometimes the recipient of that love doesn’t or can’t feel that love and of course there are bound to be consequences. But you can’t know-no one can know how each person will ultimately turn out. There isn’t only one right way to parent well. Eva openly wonders in these letters to Franklin if her thoughts regarding having/not having children were passed on to her child while she was pregnant, this having a negative effect on him.
This book is such a perfect example of nature versus nurture. Neither can be solely to blame. There are some disturbing things that Kevin does in the course of this story, when he is really young, that to me, seems like his evilness was there from the start. But if someone is more prone to be evil or act criminally does that mean nothing can change that? What do you think?
My Something New is A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold. Her son Dylan Klebold, along with Eric Harris were the two boys responsible for the thirteen killings and wounding twenty-four people at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999 before killing themselves.
“For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?” (From back cover)
These are, unfortunately such pertinent books in today’s world. We live in a culture where school-aged children pick up weapons and take the lives of those around them in an instant.
Years and years ago, this didn’t happen in our schools, now it’s become almost a rampant epidemic. This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue and I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all solution.
Are the majority of morals that bad at home versus years ago? Are children not disciplined appropriately, we know they aren’t at school, because school teachers and administrator’s hands are tied, afraid they will be sued if a child is looked at the wrong way. Is it because so many children are being raised by grandparents who are tired and shouldn’t be saddled with this responsibility? Are these even the right questions to ask- I have no idea. And if these aren’t the right questions, what hope is there in finding the right answers?
My intentions are not to sound hopeless, but rather to continually ask questions in a world that is rapidly changing. How do we teach our children answers we don’t have as adults?
“In a country that doesn’t discriminate between fame and infamy, the latter presents itself as plainly more achievable.”
-Lionel Shriver, WNTTAK
“Children live in the same world we do. To kid ourselves that we can shelter them from it isn’t just naive it’s a vanity.”
-Lionel Shriver, WNTTAK