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Extended Audio Sample We Need to Talk about Kevin: A Novel, by Lionel Shriver Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (43,620 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lionel Shriver Narrator: Coleen Marlo Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Eva never really wanted to be a mother—and certainly not the mother of a boy who ends up murdering 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It’s always a challenge for a novelist to take on front-page events. A guilt-stricken Eva Katchadourian digs into her own history, her son’s, and the nation’s, in her search for the responsible party, and her fierceness and honesty sustain the narrative; this is an impressive novel.”

    New York Times

  • “Sometimes searing…impossible to put down…brutally honest. [We Need to Talk about Kevin] drives home it chilling point. There are no answers here, no pat explanations. Shriver doesn’t take an easy way out by blaming the parents. Instead, the novel holds a mirror up to a whole culture. Who, in the end, needs to talk about Kevin? Maybe we all do.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Terribly honest. Ms. Shriver takes a calculated risk…but the gamble pays off as she strikes a tone of compelling intimacy. This is heavy material, but Ms. Shriver tackles it with admirable panache, turning a sensational story into a troubling one.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Startling…A book about the dangerous distance that exists between what we feel and what we are actually prepared to admit when it comes to family life…Shriver’s satire on child-centered families captained by adult buffoons whose intellectual, not to mention erotic, life is in pieces could not be more timely.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “A thoughtful and deeply disquieting novel about a mother coming to terms with her son’s Clinton-era rampage…Beautifully conceived as a series of confessional letters from Eva to her husband Franklin, the book swiftly dispatches all the facile ‘causes’ that are usually linked to school shootings. We Need to Talk about Kevin uses this extreme case to breach a dirty little secret about family life: Much as parents are expected to love their children unconditionally, sometimes the kids don’t turn out well—or, more shamefully, their parents don’t really like them. Only after closing the book with a shocking and masterful succession of revelations does Shriver quietly emerge from the darkness, allowing the true bond between mother and son to come finally into view.”


  • “Shriver tells a compelling, absorbing, and resonant story while framing these horrifying tableaux of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy—the tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.”


  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Emily Schmidt | 2/14/2014

    " This was my favorite summer read in 2012! Although the beginning is a bit slow, once you get into the book, it's absolutely incredible. It forces you to ask yourself so many psychological questions that you probably hadn't considered before, and Lionel Shriver's writing is beautiful and captivating. This is definitely a must-read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by David Gledhill | 2/11/2014

    " I am going to keep my comments brief and to the point. One of the most powerful books I have read. Read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Patsy | 1/28/2014

    " Fantastic totally non-likeable characters that you actually grow to love. A brilliantly written book with an amazing twist. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Terra | 12/28/2013

    " wow. speechless. makes you think about the relationship between mother and child. "

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