Book Review: A Mother’s Reckoning Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy

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I have always been intrigued by the Columbine massacre, I was seven years old (a week from turning eight) when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine high school and began shooting. While I was very young when it happened, I remember the television coverage and the absolute shock on my parent’s faces. If their child was no longer safe at school, where was she safe? I also know that life in school changed due to this tragedy. The lockdown drills, the metal detectors, even a dress code put in place due to ‘safety’ could all be traced back to April 20, 1999. So when I found out Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan was writing a book, I know I had to read it.

This book was a tough read, though under 300 pages, it took me two weeks to finish it. That is partially due to my insane schedule of late but it was also because this book is quite heart wrenching. The book begins on the day of the tragedy, Sue receives a call that something is wrong at the school. In the ensuing pages we see the first hand account of how Sue realized that her son was killing his classmates and then himself.

The pain that she bares is unimaginable and she is absolutely blindsided. Sue continuously describes her son as funny, intelligent, kind and shy. It is far from the boy that throws pipe bombs and shoots teenagers in cold blood. She also feels an intense amount of guilt, looking for some sort of reasoning. As a whole the book felt defensive but how could it not? For years she has been publicly ridiculed on why she did not realize how disturbed her son was. I feel bad that she is still working so hard to prove what a good parent she was, I hope one day she can feel at peace enough to stop defending her parenting.

I also wanted more on Eric Harris. Obviously as the mother of Dylan, I know that she doesn’t have that information but I found myself with many questions about the other half of the duo. He is painted as the violent psychopath while Dylan is the quiet, and depressed follower. I wonder how the Harris’s feel about this depiction.

There is also mention in Dylan’s journals that he had a crush on a girl that either rejected his advances or he never told her of his feelings. This girl is not named, which I understand but I do wonder if she was among the victims, this would give me greater insight to Dylan’s mind frame.

As a memoir to dealing with tragedy, Sue exceeds expectations. She spares no gory detail on her grief of losing a child and realizing that he needed help. Her massive guilt is difficult to stomach, and heartbreaking to read. She is honest and raw and it makes for a touching book.

~Lauren

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