I don’t remember the first time I read We Need To Talk about Kevin. It was either at University while I was meant to be reading something else, or it was an old book-group choice.
While I’m fuzzy about what brought me to it, I do remember being physically disgusted by it. Back then, I really did throw it against a wall, turn off the light and did not sleep. I turned the light back on to make sure it was still there on the floor. Just a book.
It gathered dust, buried within my shelves. Until I did a book-cull. I do have those, really. As a mater of fact, Kevin prompted my first one, I remember that now.
Before you get all proud of me and think the book-hoarder finally admitted she had a problem, and did something about it, think again. Because I only got rid of Kevin. So, that doesn’t even count.
I don’t remember who I threw the book at, but I’m sorry, whoever you are. I just wanted it out of my house. Not unlike the first time I watched The Exorcist, for 6 minutes, when I was ten. I stopped the tape and told my friend to ‘get this thing out of my house.’
And so, Kevin was on a very short list of things I wanted to throw around.
When I heard we’d be reading it for my current book-group, I started doing laps/generally stalking around the house repeating: NONONONONO. Neil was intrigued.
And I can tell you that my email to the book-group went like this:
Excuse me while I curl into a fetal position and lose the ability to speak. But it’s been awhile since I read it, so I could go there again.
And I did. I’d forgotten that I gave my original copy away, and it wasn’t at the library. So, I grudgingly bought another one. Neil needed to read it, if only to understand my initial um, reaction.
It arrived and sat there unread.
‘Who’s gonna read it first?’
‘I’ve read it. You read it.’
‘But it’s your turn to read the group book first.’
‘I don’t wanna.’
But I did. In three days. I might even up my star-rating on Goodreads. From 2 to 3. Because you know, changing the star-rating on a book is a big deal. A girl can change her mind. It might even mean I’ve dare I say it, grown as a person.
Since I read Kevin the first time, I’ve learned that you don’t have to like the story to appreciate the book. That leaving the reader with a sense of disquiet isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing. For book-group discussion.
This time around the book was less grueling, the writing more nuanced. And even though I prefer short sentences, these days long ones don’t make me want to poke my own eyes out. Sorry.
I suppose it was always well-written. But the first time I read it, I was so focused on what happens, I didn’t see how we got there.
I can’t say I love ‘that damn book’ all of a sudden, but I hate it a little less now.
Have you ever given a book a second chance?
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