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Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

Three days before his sixteenth birthday, Kevin Katchadourian goes into his high school, where he shoots and murders seven fellow pupils, a teacher and a cafeteria worker. In a series of letters to her former husband, Kevin’s mother Eva recalls his upbringing and their lives together.

I’ll be honest – for the first 100 pages of this book (my edition was exactly 400 pages) I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. That said, it’s not necessarily a book that you can enjoy as such, given that it is about a school shooter. It is set in 2000, two years after the horrific incident, and while Kevin and his specific crime is fictional, it references several real life school shooters. It is a sobering subject, but despite this I have become absorbed in other books on the same subject (for example, the brilliant Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult).

Eva is frankly, not an easily likeable person – although I sense that she was written that way deliberately. Her ambivalence towards her son since before he was even born, was apparent, and she wrote about him as if he was evil from the moment he arrived in the world. The question at the heart of the book is whether someone can be born evil or if – in this case – Kevin turned out the way he did as a result of his mother’s attitude towards him.

From about 100 pages in however, the book captured and held my attention. I still did not really warm to Eva, although I did feel so desperately sorry for her. I wondered if she was a reliable narrator, and if all the horrible things that Kevin did prior to the school shooting were actually as she described them, but of course events bore out the fact that he was a cruel and reckless young man.

Eva is very verbose and rarely uses one word if she can manage to use twenty. She is also clearly very intellectual and has a superiority complex to others. But she is not without compassion, even if she is very selfish. I did not like her husband Franklin either, although admittedly we only ever get to know him through Eva’s own filter. But his blind defence of his son made me want to shake him for his naivety. (Again though, I wonder how the same events would have played out written from Franklin’s point of view.)

Anyway – it’s relentlessly bleak, but you kind of have to expect that going in. It’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for a number of years, and I’m glad I finally did. On the whole, I would recommend it although I don’t think I would rush to read any more books by this author.

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I listened to the audiobook of The Cows, expertly narrated by the author herself, Dawn O’Porter, plus Karen Cass and Laura Kirman. It’s a mixed bag of a book for me – definitely held my attention throughout, but when looked at in retrospect a lot of the things that happened were verging on ludicrous.

The story centres around three women – Tara, a tv executive who makes a silly mistake one night and it threatens to ruin her life; Cam, a well known blogger who has a hugely successful career, but her mother and sisters despair of her life choices; and Stella, a young woman mourning the death of her sister, who is driven to desperate lengths to get what she wants out of life. Each in her own way, refuses to follow the herd and this has consequences for all of them.

Without giving away any spoilers, I thought the story was entertaining enough and as mentioned, extremely well narrated. Although I listen to and enjoy audiobooks, I generally prefer printed books. On this rare occasion though, I think listening to the book enhanced its appeal. Some of the events that happened just seemed so unlikely that it was fairly obvious they were simply there to move to story along. Stella’s story in particular, while it achieved the point of showing how far people will go to make their dream come true, seemed so ridiculous that I almost lost interest. I liked Tara, I quite liked Cam, and I hated Stella although I did feel some sympathy for her.

I think I expected the book to be more of a comedy – and it isn’t. It is a drama, firmly set in the current day – the internet and social media play surprisingly large roles in this story.

Overall, I enjoyed it enough to try another book by Dawn O’Porter, but this is a flawed read, which I would recommend but with some caution.

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I’ve read novels by Emily Barr in the past and always enjoyed them. However, it had been a few years since I’d tried one, so when I picked The Sisterhood off my shelf (where it had been languishing for SEVEN years!) I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it – after all, tastes change and I know that mine have. My fear was unfounded however – after a slow start due to my own time constraints, I rattled through this book and found it hard to put down. Without giving too much away, the premise is as follows:

London: Liz Greene’s relationship has just fallen apart in a horrible and irrevocable manner. Depressed and lonely she has a one night stand and becomes pregnant.

Bordeaux: Helen Labenne and her brother Tom have just discovered that their mother had a child years before they were born. Bored with her privileged lifestyle, Helen decides to go to London to track down her sister Elizabeth Greene…

The book may start off in almost a chick-lit style, but it becomes apparent early on (and should already be apparent to anyone who has read Emily Barr before) that this is a much darker story, with sinister undertones and plenty of tension. It’s clear from the beginning that Helen has some issues, and an unconventional way of looking at things, but as she begins to insinuate herself more and more into Liz’s life, it gets twistier and creepier.

Unfortunately I can’t say much more without giving away spoilers, and spoilers can really ruin a book like this. However, I can say that the book is told from both Helen and Liz’s points of view – they take alternating chapters – and later, Helen’s mother Mary also narrates some ‘flashback’ chapters.

As the story builds to its climax, there are some huge twists – including one which I definitely saw coming, and one which I most definitely did not!

Overall, a very enjoyable read and one I would recommend to fans of psychological thrillers. My only niggling complaint is that the prologue does kind of give something away unnecessarily, but other than that I liked this book a lot.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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