Book 39 of my 2017 Reading Challenge
read from June 28 - July 6
A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
Summary (via the book jacket)
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. In a matter of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and would 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 countless interviews with mental health experts.
I think it's worth noting that all of the author's profits will be donated to research and charity for mental health issues. She may not have planned this to be her life's work but the amount of introspection she put herself through and the public speaking and charity work she continues to do has obviously become the way she is trying to deal with an unimaginable situation. I can't judge her but her heartbreak is palpable in these pages so I hope she can find a healthy way to find peace. I was sorry to read that their marriage didn't survive.
I know these are her words and her story but she seems so honest about the positives and negatives of their household, I would challenge anyone judging the parents of the people who commit heinous acts to read this and say what they would've done differently.
It was a fine line to walk to remember the good things about him while also not making excuses for his behavior and although she veered into holding Eric Harris more responsible than her son Dylan, she also explored that feeling and eventually had to acknowledge Dylan's responsibility in everything.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"On April 20, 1999, I woke up an ordinary wife and mother, happy to be shepherding my family through the daily business of work, chores, and school. Fast-forward twenty-four hours, and I was the mother of a hate-crazed gunman responsible for the worst school shooting in history. And Dylan, my golden boy, was not dead, but a mass murderer."
"As it would be for years, waking was the cruelest moment of the day - the split second where it was possible to believe it had all been a nightmare, the worst dream a person could have."
"There was no longer any way to avoid the horrific fact that my son had planned and committed nightmarish acts of cruelty. But the gentle-hearted kid who'd made me that Pegasus; the lovely, shy boy who couldn't resist helping with a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle; the young man whose characteristic bark of a laugh punctuated the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes we watched together - he had been real, too. Who was it I loved, and why had I loved him?