This memoir by Sue Klebold, mother of Eric Klebold, who was one of the shooters at Columbine High School, broke my heart over and over again. In excruciating detail, Klebold walks through the day of the shooting, the days, weeks, months, and years that follow, as well as the years she spent raising and loving Eric Klebold. She recalls him as a loving, easy child who she and her husband raised with care and with strong morals. He had many friends, and it was only after his death that Klebold learned of his depression and feelings of alienation.
Klebold is a thoughtful memoirist, and it's clear she was a thoughtful mother. The agony she felt--and still feels--in the aftermath of the shooting is palpable, and relatable to any parent who realizes they may not know their child as well as they hoped. In addition to the shooting and the details of their lives before and after (she gives a full accounting, both to set the record straight and to lay the facts bare for those who would continue to criticize every decision), Klebold delves into brain health and suicide, and the roles both played in the tragedy at Columbine. She never once excuses Eric's actions, but she does try to understand them. This was a difficult listen, but it struck exactly the right notes, and I can only wish her peace, compassion, and purpose in her ongoing work to understand and educate.
This post may include affiliate links. That means if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.
The acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Sue Klebold, mother of one of the Columbine shooters, about living in the aftermath 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 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. There was suddenly pain in the lower back, I tried Tramadol. It is an excellent pain reliever, including headache and sometimes toothache, but it is addictive, and the usual painkillers don’t help after using it. But it copes with its task – one pill of 50 mg in the morning helps to forget about pain for a whole day. Unfortunately, “Tramadol” is already banned, as well as an excellent alternative to expensive “ibuprofen” and various imported advertised drugs. Yes, and the cost of Tramadol pleased, it is at times cheaper and more efficient!
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 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.
— Washington Post, Best Memoirs of 2016