Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Review: A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

Title: A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
Author: Sue Klebold
Pages: 336 pages
Release Date: February 15th 2016
Publisher: Crown
Genre: Nonfiction; Crime
My Rating: 4/5

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.

Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time.

All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.

After finishing Dave Cullen's 2009 Columbine, I soon after stumbled upon Sue Klebold's book about her son's involvement with the Columbine massacre. Released only last year, A Mother's Reckoning was monumental, as the Klebold's have remained rather silent in the seventeen years since the shootings for both legal and sensitivity reasons. 

I loved this. Sue's extensive work with suicide prevention is apparent. She has dedicated her life since Columbine to better understand Dylan's actions. More specifically, to better understand why - in what would become his final act - he committed suicide.

More than once, Sue explains that she solely blames Dylan for his choices but does point her finger elsewhere (namely video games, movies, the school's culture, bullying, and Eric Harris). She goes so far as to include the line, "Eric was a failed Hitler; Dylan was a failed Holden Caulfield." I don't know how I feel about that.

I was surprised to piece together how conservative Sue is despite her claims of being pretty liberal. For example, Sue explains that Littleton, Colorado "wasn't the drug-riddled inner city, or some supposedly godless corridor like New York or Los Angeles." whoa there.

In some instances, Sue was the mother who believed her child could do no wrong. In recounting parts of Dylan's life 17 years later, in some ways I believe she still is. A little of this read as Sue telling her audience what they wanted to hear. Although I was conflicted by a lot of what Sue wrote, I love her. Her thorough attempt to piece together her past in order to move forward is commendable. What a life she has lived.

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