A Mother’s Reckoning: Living In The Aftermath Of The Columbine Tragedy

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedyA Mother’s Reckoning: Living In The Aftermath Of The Columbine Tragedy by Sue Klebold
Published by Virgin Digital
Expected publication 15 February 2017
336 pages

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I was given an ARC of this by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it. This is my non-fiction choice for January.


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. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.

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


WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY blamed parents for the apparent defects of their children.


Here is my confession: I would not have read this book if I had known it was a memoir by the mother of one of the shooters. That would have been a mistake and I am humbled by my assumption that Sue must have known something was wrong with her son and did nothing. I would not describe this as a happy book but it is heart-breaking and made me cry from start to finish. I started to read A Mother’s Reckoning on New Year’s and was crying before I’d read more than a few pages. Sue does not make excuses for her son’s actions but tries to understand them and make us understand as well. Dylan was not the monster he was initially painted to be but a boy with mental health problems who was not in his right stare of mine when he did a terrible thing. Sue is braver than I’d have been in the circumstances. She admits that she is not without blame because her and her husband misinterpreted signs that Dylan was falling apart and, understandably runs through a million scenarios in her mind when she saves him and the Columbine victims. A Mother’s Reckoning is hard to read at times especially when Sue summarises what happened that awful day at Columbine. I found the statistics of suicides among teenagers shocking. A Mother’s Reckoning is not a good book, it is an incredibly moving memoir that wrecked me.




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