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

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.

This was an intense book from a unique perspective. It’s unfathomable to begin trying to imagine being in Sue Klebold’s position. I assume anyone faced with a tragedy of this magnitude would become deeply introspective and understanding of the nature of mental illness. This was such a beautifully written book, so honest and humble. I’m glad she found the courage to share her story; I think it’s so important to explain how Dylan is a human and could be anyone’s son, brother, or friend. No one is immune to mental illness. It was interesting getting to know Dylan through her eyes, especially those days and moments leading up to the massacre and her journey through discovery and understanding.

Anyone familiar with the details of Dylan’s personality versus Eric Harris’s knows that Dylan was the more withdrawn, sullen type where Eric was volatile and angry. Eric’s was one of a homicidal rage where Dylan’s was a suicidal ideation; Eric was psychopathic, Dylan was depressive. Without Eric, Dylan would most likely have not acted alone, however he may have still committed suicide, as this was at the heart of his participation.

It’s sad that it takes tragedies like this before people start waking up to the causes. Also, Andrew Solomon’s introduction was so touching – love that man.

I had posted her TedTalks on my previous journal, but I want to share it here again.



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