I'm not sure i enjoyed this book. The beginning really drew me in and I felt sympathy with the family. When Ben arrived it faltered and I think DL lost the way a bit. It raised many points about family dynamics and I could sympathise with several of the characters. I wasn't sure about the ending but on reflection it couldn't have been written another way, in keeping with the book.
I wouldn't seek out another story from this author based on reading this.
I found this very strange. It is a very short book, and covers about 20 years. I felt it was skipping through time and not really detailed enough to draw me in.
The bits where Ben seemed to be abandoned to the case of teenage bikers was odd, but when I realised he was preschool age at the time, it became unbelievable. It has left me thinking about it alot over the past couple of days, which I guess is one of the aims of a good book, but I can't say I actually enjoyed it.
I'm going to be honest here... I know it's not in the spirit of the book club, but I couldn't bring myself to read it. My excuse is I'm pregnant with my 2nd DC and I thought the subject matter was too close to home for me! (Also, the reason why I stopped reading "We Need To Talk About Kevin" when I was pregnant with DS).
I promise I will get a copy and read it once I've popped the baby out!
I enjoyed the first half of this book but became increasingly uncomfortable with the second half. I finished it but I would have liked to know more about Ben really. There didn't seem to be a good side to him at all which I find unlikely if this were real life.
I can understand that this would be difficult reading in pregnancy!
I've not read any DL before, but she's on my list of authors that I feel like I should read, so thanks to book swap for that.
I suppose it is more of a fable than a realistic novel (or novella really, it's pretty short). Once I'd got my head round that I think I enjoyed it more. Ben seems to have autistic traits and maybe the author is using exaggeration to discuss how we deal with children who are less than 'perfect'.
Have enjoyed this one. I really liked her writing style having not actually got round to reading her before.
However, I'm still a bit bemused by Ben. I also thought autistic elements early on but not so much later. Also agree that the family dynamics were sketched well - and the conflicts raised and not resolved as a parent; juggling responsibilities to different children and different needs, with varied levels of consequence. But left with rather a feeling of '...' so I need some brain space to think which I fear will be hard to come by.
I kept coming across references to this book whilst reading reviews and commentaries on 'We need to talk about Kevin' so was interested to read it. To be honest though, I didn't think there were many parallels other than a nasty, violent boy. In the Shriver book, Kevin shows that he is an intelligent child who somehow goes astray. In 'The 5th Child', it is not absolutely clear whether Ben is a 'normal' child gone 'bad' or some kind of alien! I think there is a really strong hint of the supernatural, that he is some other being. Some of the online reviews of this book say that Harriet and David are smug, heading for a fall, but I could not accept that interpretation. I think they were entitled to want a happy home with a large family.The most haunting scene has to be when Harriet goes to collect Ben from the asylum. The fact that he is so terrified when Harriet reminds him of the place later, and uses the threat of sending him back there, makes you think he is 'normal' but somehow disturbed. I don't mean to sound insensitive about what our expectations are of a child's behaviour - I appreciate that there is a spectrum, but Ben is at one end of it. It was a good read, really intriguing. There is a sequel 'Ben, in the World'.