I don’t like putting things off, while a bit of a ‘headinthesandaboutthingsIdon’twanttodealwith’ is more common than I’d like to admit, I don’t like that I do it. Which brings me to this review – the review I didn’t want to write, about a book that I still don’t want to even think about.
I’ve been meaning to read it for a while, since old flatmate of mine very much sung its praises a few years back, and I’ve seen its glowering cover on bookshelves in shops since 2005.
The subject content is horrific, focussing on a high school massacre done (done? What is the right word for this? Completed? Organised by? None of these phrases are impactful enough…) the protagonists’ son Kevin.
Trying to understand why, our protagonist is writing letters to her husband, going from Kevin’s birth and through his childhood, reflecting on their life, her decisions, his responses to her style of motherhood in some cases to ascertain where blame lies and in other cases to lay it squarely at his feet.
It raises questions around nature vs nurture, are some children born bad? What really is the outcome of crippling post-natal depression? and even leaves you to ask what would you do if faced with a situation such as this? Did he do it to get the attention he always craved? Did he do it to show the world he could? Did she love him? Did she hate him?
I’m still thinking about the book a couple of weeks later, and I have been dragging my heels in writing up my thoughts on it as I didn’t want all these negative feelings brought back up again. I was having trouble sleeping, asking my boyfriend ‘what if we had a child like this? What would we do if I had post-natal depression?’ so much so I wish I’d never read it – so the last thing I wanted to do was write commentary on it.
In saying all of this – the book is incredibly well written. The literary style as always drew me right in, at times finding myself wanting to read until all hours, even if the content left me lying awake even longer questioning my own thoughts and opinions. While it sickened me to the core (even more so than ‘Less than zero’ by Bret Easton Ellis) I can’t deny its literary worth.
I couldn’t bring myself to read it again, and I’ve hidden it in my book collection so I don’t even have to see its cover. I’m terrified of childbirth now, terrified of hating something that could take over my body mind and soul in such a negative way. Without giving away the end, I still can’t work out if all the shock and horror and polarising opinion is around the content of the last chapter or the last couple of lines. (As both are twists in some way).
I was so glad to put this book away, and then I realised researching this review, that they are making a movie of it.
Oh my god a fucking movie.