Study Guide

We Need to Talk About Kevin Tough-o-Meter

By Lionel Shriver

Tough-o-Meter

(5) Tree Line

Eva Khatchadourian likes to use words that have as many, or more, syllables than her own very long last name. You might find yourself looking up the definitions of some words early on, like trifling (unimportant) or codswallop (nonsense). Eva uses so many pretentious vocabulary words, you might be tempted to dismiss the entire book as trifling codswallop.

Eva's vocabulary is pretentious, but it's a defense mechanism intended to keep people at bay. If you persevere, you can crack her chilly exterior and get to know the real Eva. Although that might be even more disturbing.

That brings us to the book's subject matter, which is even more difficult than its vocabulary. The real Eva is bluntly honest about post-partum depression, juvenile sexuality, and generally hating her son. Eva talks about the things that no one else talks about, so she might make you uncomfortable. But sometimes, it's those things that need to be talked about most.