Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Likely Stories - We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

This week, avid reader and daughter in law of Jim McKeown, Ashley McKeown, brings to her Likely Stories debut, Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel 'We Need to Talk about Kevin."

Born in the south, North Carolina exactly. Ms Lionel Shriver has been an author who shines a guiding light into the proclivities of the common human. And while she chooses to live her life in the UK she has an insanely realistic grasp of the American way of doing things. Her beautiful novel We Need to Talk About Kevin has been around for many years. In fact it was made into a movie starring Tilda Swinton.

I wanted to start my time on likely stories with a familiar book. A book that I go back to year after year. After Sandy Hook, after Uvalde, I came to the conclusion, that yes we need to talk. This country is on fire, and violence is so ridiculously prevalent. And Ms. Shriver does a fine job at honing in on it, and giving it back to us a society. Kevin, is the story of a a highly successful women who finds love a bit later in life. The choice to have a child is terrifying to her. But she chooses to embark on that journey despite her hesitancy.

From the first moment our Kevin is born, the protagonist, Eva, realizes something is not quite right. He is not the cuddly baby that one expects. He is fussy, colicky, and Eva doesn't quite know how to manage him. Eva doubts herself every day. She goes to mother and me classes only to leave feeling lost.

After a few years with Kevin, she so ardently doubts herself, that she conspicuously tries and manages to get pregnant again. It is her sure fire way to prove that kevin is faulty, and she can succeed in child rearing. Celia is her saving grace, an obedient and loving girl. In a series of letters written to her estranged husband, she opens up about her doubts and fears in a way that she truly couldn't when they were together.

Is the protagonist manipulative at times? Absolutely. Do you find yourself angry with her and sad for Kevin, well you do. But never have I read a novel that created such a slow burn to a truly catastrophic finale. The last letter written, I truly believes sums up everything Eva was holding in. She poignantly pens these words, "It's possible I'm asking the wrong question. The truth is if I decided I was innocent, or I decided I was guilty, what difference would it make? If I arrived at the right answer would you come home?"

He can't come home for many reasons. But the absolute
vulnerability lies in that there will never be an answer for Eva nor for Kevin. The choices that needed to be made weren't, they were avoided, they were left behind

We need to talk about Kevin shines a light on the tenous relationship between a mother and a son. She does not hold back on the painful realities of marriage. And we as an audience find ourselves cringing at his behavior. And as a mom i find her behavior horrific, but it makes sense. He's not well and a mother knows.

We need to talk about Kevin is a love letter, to a soul mate while also being a tragic tale of mother and child. We need to talk about Kevin, is a warning to us all that things are never as they seem. And that we might all just be a brief moment away from an incredible act of violence.

Likely Stories - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
John Hopkins Hospital... Medical Revolution...and Henrietta Lacks...are words that will ring in your mind for endless days after reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot.
Likely Stories - Black Cake
I've read many novels that have one or two well developed main characters, while all other characters seem more one dimensional, supporting cast types. But the novel Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson couldn't be more opposite of this.
Likely Stories - This Side of Paradise
Even though knowing better, Gia Chevis is a sucker for "before you die" lists. She has found one read that doesn't make the cut for her.
Likely Stories - Babel
I’m an easy mark for campus novels. I recently discovered Rebecca Kuang, known for her Poppy War trilogy and satire, Yellowface. Kuang also wrote Babel, a novel uniting magical realism and social critique
Likely Stories - The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine
This past year, I’ve read plenty of books and stories, some of them normal, some of them extraordinary. Today, I want to discuss the most extraordinary book about normal people that I’ve read this past year.
Likely Stories - Ugly: The Aesthetics of Everything by Stephen Bayley
If you have been to the mountains recently and had the opportunity to soak in the alpine forests, the placid lakes, the beautiful leaves, and the pristine snow, then you may have the fourteenth-century Italian poet Petrarch to thank.
Likely Stories - Life In Five Senses by Gretchen Rubin
The five senses...what do you think of when I say that phrase? As an educator I think about teaching younger students what the senses are, and examples of them. But beyond that- do we really give them much thought?
Likely Stories - Reef Road by Deborah Goodrich Royce
The beginning of this slow burn crime fiction is a doozy. During the beginning days of the pandemic, beaches in Florida were closed to the public, but two boys sneak out to surf near Reef Road, when they spot a hand that has washed up to shore.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
Hello, my name is Shenequa Williams with this week's edition of Likely Stories. I am a Reading Interventionist teacher in Waco I.S.D. at G.W. Carver Middle School.I recently read a book called Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore, and could not stop turning the pages. This beautiful debut novel is a story of heartbreak, guilt, hope, and courage.
Likely Stories - The Sweet Remnants of Summer by Alexander McCall
I am a big reader. Recently, I've been reading Alexander McCall Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club Series. The latest installment, The Sweet Remnants of Summer, offers an intelligent and emotionally sensitive exploration of the light-hearted and profound.

Ashley Goldberg-McKeown is the daughter-in-law of Jim McKeown, the founder of Likely Stories on KWBU. She too is a lover of books. A voracious reader from the age of 7, books are literally her happy place. Ashley said “I am a born and bred Wacoan, and this community has meant the world to me. Let's review some books!”