Lionel Shriver

We have explicit expectations of ourselves in specific situations–beyond expectations; they are requirements. Some of these are small: If we are given a surprise party, we will be delighted. Others are sizable: if a parent dies, we will be grief-stricken. But perhaps in tandem with these expectations is the private fear that we will fail convention in the crunch. That we will receive the fateful phone call and our mother is dead and we feel nothing. I wonder if this quiet, unutterable little fear is even keener than the fear of the bad news itself: that we will discover ourselves to be monstrous.
—  Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Room by Emma Donoghue

For more unique child narrators in difficult circumstances, try these… 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer for a quirky little boy struggling with grief after the death of his father

The First Book of Calamity Leek by Paula Lichtarowicz for teenage girls abducted and brainwashed

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver for a dark story of the nature of evil and the extent of parental love

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon for a luminous story told from the perspective of an autistic boy

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I’m less concerned that you love my characters than that you recognise them. Human beings have rough edges. Authors who write exclusively about ethical, admirable, likeable characters are not writing about real people.

Excellent piece by Lionel Shriver in defense of unlikable characters.

We Need To Talk About Kevin author Lionel Shriver: Why Literature Requires Unlikable Characters - Slate Magazine