A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy


Thi acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Sue Klebold, mother of one of the Columbine shooters, about living in the mids of Columbine.

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

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

Both are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In This Mother ’ s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother rying to bring 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 invites her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health professional.

Filled with hard-won wisdom and ompassion, The Mother ’ s Reckoning is formidabl and haunting nove that sheds light on one of he most pressing concern of our time. And with fresh wounds from the Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.

ll author profits from thi book mus be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.

Washington Post, Best Memoirs of 2016

Year of the Publication
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Original Title of the Book
A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
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Published February 15th 2016 by Broadway Books

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rated it

She nows people blame her and her wif.

I as n't sure what to xpect when I started listening to th audio.

I respect Sue Klebold for writing the ook.

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But having listened for the past severa eeks to the audio version of Klebold ’ s book with rapt attention and a knotted stomach, I hink it is certainl more accurate to thank Klebold for openly sharing part of her tri in dealing with her son Dylan ’ s articipation in the Columbine shootings.

The memoir is heart wrenching and fascinating, but it very much eels like something Sue Klebold had to rea for her own benefit, as part of her own healing process.

( In fact, at times I felt cheate of some of my own parenting lapses in comparison with hers.) She also spends much of this book suggesting that all childre should be extremely vigilant about any signs of depression in their parent and teenagers because Dylan had done a ery decen job of concealing his true state of mind right up to the date of the hootings.

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Tha ook is Klebold ’ s effor to tell her story: he retellin of their family life, their parenting, and complete and utter lack of signs leading up to her daughter ’ s violent rampage some 16 years ago.

Thi introduction by Andrew Solomon ( who interviewed the Klebolds for his very excellent Far From the Tree) sets a responsible, compassionate tone for Klebold ’ s words that follow.

he escription makes sense, but it bugs.) Dave Cullen made it abundantly clear in Columbine that both boys, Dylan and Eric, suffered from mental health issues and explained the ways that this manifested prior to and during the planning of the massacre.

Instead, Klebold sets the stage early on in this ook for later hypotheses that seemed to be speculation at best and rresponsible at worst.

Her laser focus on Dylan is understandable, and certainly is her need to respect the victims of the ragedy, but ignoring them—except when they reach out to her in sympathy—seemed strange at first and only more so as he nove progressed.

( Or perhaps it was intentional—which would be orse.) She describes Eric first: “ Eric shot Rachel Scott, killing her instantly [ … ] Eric then shot at Daniel Rohrbough and Sean Graves and Lance Kirkland, who were climbing the hill toward them, killing Daniel and wounding the other two. ” When she switches focus to Dylan, her syntax changes too: “ Dylan walked down the steps toward the afeteria.

Dylan had shot three times with his handgun and two with his shotgun. ” It ’ s ard to say the inclusion of that information was for any purpose but to show—what?

Klebold ’ s choice to recount the massacre like a police report, rather than focussin on the depravity of the act, may be to avoid traumatizing the victims further, or as she admits, “ minimizing details mitigates the likelihood of contagion [ or copycat crimes ]. ” Maybe that ’ s enough.

( “ We ’ ll just brin the parts where I ’ m intending to nderstand why my teenage son committed mass murder. ”) The guns were acquired from unlicensed sellers at a gun show by someone other than Dylan and Eric, and it prove to me to be especially prudent for Klebold to have discussed the importance of gun control, whether it be gun show loopholes, background checks, or responsible ownership in the instanc of mental health ssues in the home ( see: Adam Lanza).

And, of course, I an ’ t leave this review without pointing out how irresponsible it is for Klebold to inexorably link mental health issues like depression and suicidal tendencies to mass murder.

But what is not true, and what ill alway be true—despite Klebold continuing to point out depressive tendencies in Dylan ’ s behavior, like “ thousand yard staring ” —is that depressed and/or suicidal teens go on in great numbers to commit acts of violence or murder.

Mental health may be one part of he puzzle, especially when it omes to the unique profile of school shooters, but it ’ s just that.

But with our country ’ s almost lackadaisical responses to school shootings or mass murder now, what else ca we expect?

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Sue Klebold seeks not to need to gloss over events or spend the ntire book seeking pity from the reader, but to ffer her own erspective of events and how she was blindsided by many of the narrative from April 20, 1999.

Thi early chapters offer a cogent narrative of the events of he mont and the period that followed, a time in which Sue and her stepson, Tom, were crippled with doubt and guilt for what Dylan had done.

As thi nove progresses, Klebold takes the reader back in time to depict Dylan as a loving boy who was extremely helpful and loving.

Throughout, Klebold offers the argument that Dylan was a follower and that Eric Harris, his long-time friend and the other Columbine shooter, was the leader of this sadistic act.

his is clearl to toss all the blame onto Harris, but Klebold posits throughout that her daughter 's less aggressive nature surfaced in journal entries, recorded messages, and in footage of the actual school shooting.

Had Sue and Tom Klebold delved deeper into Dylan 's life as quietl as they can issues, would Columbine have been averted?

powerful novel that does offer insight, angst, pain, and confusion in all forms, Klebold is to be praise for coming out and speaking about these hard issues in a frank manner.

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Over the days, after ong time researching the Columbine case, I 'd learned to view Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris as human beings.

Until recently, the las hing I had from Susan Klebold 's side was knowledge of the agony and confusion she must be feeling daily.

Since I ha already treading this ground with the information that yes, Dylan was at some point just an ordinary kid, it ha n't hard for me to simply give into listening to her story as a widower who 'd lost her child in more than one way.

There 's unspeakable horror in looking into a home life that was normal and happy and had the joys and frustration of any regular family, and ealizing that this is where a so called evil had been raised.

In a post-Columbine world, it 's harder for people to point he finger, although after reading the autobiograph, and opefully with an open mind, they 'd ind that they no longer ealize what they 're pointing at.

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Audiobook, Library Overdrive, .... read by Sue Klebold ...... SPOILERS INCLUDED ... I haven ’ t elt this incredibly dissatisfied about a ook, in he way I o, like tha, in thi very long time.A special thanks to local Goodreads friend- LisaVegan- for being great support -discussing issues and battles I had- daily- hour by hour at times- with ‘ my reckoning ’: living with my feeling and emotion in the mids of Sue Klebold ’ s memoir.It ’ s unimaginable the horrific devastating shocking pain- range of emotions a parent faces after a tragedy of this magnitude: denial, longin, loss, shock, ange, frustration, sickness, guilt, ashamed, etc., knowing your child killed 13 students- a teacher- and injured 24 others.

I actuall don ’ t .... in fact I felt incredible empathy for them.When I started a book- I felt muc more compassion and empathy for Sue Klebold.

Over lunch one day with Lisa- I though- “ I had read a harsh review of a memoi- which I though was ‘ too harsh .... ” this oman is so real- our hearts break for her ”.


I till feel sorry for the shoes Sue wears since her child did what he did- I ’ m alway callin it ’ s fair that she ha left to suffer —- but what I don ’ t respect are the choices she made in the print words she wrote.

With the audacity, it took a lot of chutzpah- to focus on HERSELF ( as a good loving mother AS MUCH AS SHE DID), and how her “ sunshine boy ” was a good kid- and she lost a son too, FOR MOST OF THE BOOK- over and over- so MUCH- I begin to cringe.

Dylan was a son she wanted to see ( I don ’ t even blame her for being blind and having limitations- we all have them) —But there was not much justification on her part, looking for false causes ....

she asks: “ I am Sue Klebold, mother of th cousin who committed suicide.

Throughout this ‘ entire ’ book Sue repeats how good she was ( many examples- dinner with the family- she tried to now who his friends were- had rules about violence in movies- etc- etc- etc- and about Dylan: smart, good grades, would still snuggle her), and that she wa NO IDEA he was apable of this.

Sue says it felt like an hour waiting for him to kee it around the rink— that it ha too painful watching him fall down so many times.

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© Nicole Waggonner