Book: A Mother’s Reckoning: Living In the Aftermath of Tragedy
Author: Sue Klebold
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High School. This story is about how Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has coped with her grief and guilt about that tragedy.
As I am sure anyone would, she has spent the last sixteen years wondering if there was anything she and her husband could have done or said that would have stopped Dylan from committing these atrocious acts. In great detail, she described how they parented Dylan and his older brother; Dylan’s personality as a young boy and later as a teenager. She talks about a situation where Dylan and Eric had gotten into some trouble a year prior to the shootings and they were put into a diversion program where I believe they had to perform community service and check in with the program manager. Eric and Dylan performed so well in this program, that they actually got early release and a glowing report of their service. Other than this one occasion, Dylan hadn’t been in any trouble, had good friends, was active in bowling and got relatively good grades.
Sue now believes after reading Dylan’s journal entries, along with the videos that Eric and Dylan made that Dylan was suffering from depression and that committing the acts he did, was an out for him to commit suicide. For the past several years Sue has been working with organizations and agencies with respect to what she calls “brain health” trying to bring awareness to parents to be on the lookout of signs of depression in their children. All proceeds of this book are going to charity towards the cause of mental health.
If the facts as presented are a fair summation of how Sue and her husband parented, I do not see how they can be blamed for what their son did. They were hands-on parents who communicated with their children, knew their children’s friends and their parents. There were certain things that she wished she had now done like reading her son’s journal entries, however, at the time she considered that an invasion of privacy and I have to agree with that. She talked about Dylan’s grades falling a bit the last semester he was alive, but he was graduating in a few months, had been accepted to college and it was felt that this was just another case of a kid getting close to the end of high school and not trying as hard as he used to. Even the guidance counsellor and the diversion program had no concerns about Dylan or his behavior.
I listened to this as an audiobook read by Sue and her emotions came through very clearly. I did feel deep sympathy towards her and her husband along with the others who lost loved ones in the attack. At the end of the day, there were so many people affected by this tragedy and the reverberations are still being felt. After over forty years of marriage, Sue and her husband separated a couple of years ago – another casualty of this event.
Four out of five stars.