We Need to Talk About Kevin is a Book Worth Talking About

We Need to Talk About KevinWhat a train wreck. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a psychological thriller that slowly builds steam. And I do mean slowly. This is not your light fluffy read for the afternoon, but instead something to read, think about, and discuss. And maybe even have another light read on the side to make your way through this journey.

Some reviewers say the writing style is pretentious, but it is the main character Eva, who is pretentious – rather than the book. Lionel Shriver brings Eva’s personality to life, and as other characters are quoted, you get a really good sense that she (the author), can really write characters that are easily distinguished from one another. I grew to hate Eva’s husband almost as much as her son – and that may have even been part of her goal.

From the beginning we know that Eva’s son, Kevin, committed mass murder. Eva wonders if she (or perhaps her “thought crimes”) are to blame, and though the questioning thoughts she has never leads us in this direction, I half wonder if her husband’s behavior toward Kevin played a larger part – given Kevin’s intelligence, personality, and Franklin’s way of never treating him as being older than a toddler.

This is a very difficult book to rate. At the beginning I loved the writing style, and I loved seeing what Eva had to say about the matter (and I too, wanted to know WHY everything happened as it did). However, as the story unfolds, the verbose language style and heavy plot really weighed on me. I took a break in the middle to read a trashy romance novel (and by trashy I mean, it was awful), before continuing on with this journey that felt like it would never end. Then again, I couldn’t make myself stop reading it, and, it’s not a book that can be skimmed.

All in all, I’d say I really liked it for what it made me think. But I’m desperately in need of a good light fluffy novel now to get lost in for a few hours!

I never would have known about this book if it hadn’t been suggested to me by the recommendation engine on Scribd!

Liked Coraline? Read Dust by Arthur Slade

Sometimes books listed as “for children” are really an “all ages” type of read – but the only way to find out, is to read them. Since I just read a book listed for ages 9-18 on Amazon, and loved it, I wanted to be sure to write a quick review. Because… I’m not 18 anymore…

Dust by Arthur SladeIf you’re in the mood for something that’s a quick read but has some serious creepiness, enough to make you want to keep turning the pages because you MUST find out what happens next, be sure to check out Dust by Arthur Slade. Part fantasy, part horror, it’s quite a unique story. Children go missing and an entire town is mesmerized… What has happened to the children, and why are people held captivated by the town newcomer? You’ll have to read to find out.

Then, if you want to continue reading more books that fit the same vibe, be sure to check out Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and Ashlyn’s Radio by Norah Wilson and Heather Doherty.

P.S. Isn’t that cover just awesome? I admit to purchasing this book because of the cover. See? Sometimes that choice pays off!

Ride the Roller Coaster of Madness: A Bipolar Life

It takes a certain level of sanity to know you are mentally ill, yet try to hide it from the world – and succeed. I just finished reading Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher and I’m slowly coming back to reality. It was tough to put this book down and do anything else, it’s captivating, and quite frankly, mind-blowing. It’s difficult to imagine someone living this way, not only simply coping, but coming out on top and living a successful life. It is not a “how to be well” handbook, there are no answers here. But there is a journey well worth taking.

“I am silent. I do not exist. I am merely a pair of eyes, looking around the room. The rest of me is invisible. I won’t be visible again until someone sees me. If a woman stands in her kitchen rubbing her eyes and pouring coffee with no one there to see her, does she exist?”

MadnessMarya Hornbacher has managed to squash Anorexia, Bulimia, Alcoholism, and seems to be finding a way to live with what sounds like, fairly severe Bipolar disorder. Her descriptions of the rapid-cycling between hypermania and depression left me with a very clear understanding of what it would be like to face these obstacles, and a much better understanding (and empathy) for being mentally ill.

During the years her biopolar was misdiagnosed – then the years she fought the diagnosis, she led a somewhat functional life. Rather, it was highly dysfunctional but she accomplished some amazing things. Her book “Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia” was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 – all while being shuffled in and out of the psych ward (and associated reality).

“You wake up one morning and there it is, sitting in an old plaid bathrobe in your kitchen, unpleasant and unshaved. You look at it, heart sinking. Madness is a rotten guest.”

Marya used both food and alcohol to try to manage her moods and mind, and it’s unfortunate it took so long for her to receive appropriate help with each of these areas (eating disorder, alcoholism, and then finally, her biopolar). I learned, the longer bipolar goes undiagnosed, the more severe it will get (and the more frequently swings will occur). Since bipolar is often diagnosed as something else first, the patient is at risk.

Marya Hornbacher is a beautiful writer. As a lover of words, she has an amazing way with them. This book will likely be one of my favorite reads for this year – and it’s only January!

Madness: A Bipolar Life is of course available on Amazon, and also on Scribd.