By page 300, we were perusing the Yellow Pages for child interventions and military schools. Shriver had us entirely convinced that we have been harboring a miniature psychopath under our very roof.
Okay, okay....so by the end of the novel, A Reader's Respite finally figured out that Shriver is presenting the possibility that parents can do all of the right things and tragedy might still strike. (Big Kid was finally allowed out of Time Out and heaved a tremendous sigh of relief at this point.) But she leaves her themes open for interpretation -- making this novel the supreme Book Club choice -- and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions about Eve and Franklin's parenting styles.
Aside from drawing the reader into serious moral and ethical quagmires, Shriver keeps the narrative moving along at an intense pace, despite her tendency to get a little fancy with her vocabulary choices (did someone get a shiny, new thesaurus for Christmas that year?).
Add to that a absolutely shocking twist at the end (we swear, we never saw it coming!) and you have a novel most deserving of the Orange Prize....which it indeed won in 2005.