No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine

On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, two seniors at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, walked into their school and shot to death twelve students and one teacher, and wounded many others. It was the worst single act of murder at a school in U.S. history. Few people knew Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris better than Brooks Brown. Brown and Klebold were best friends in grade school, and years later, at Columbine, Brown was privy to some of Harris and Klebolds darkest fantasies and most troubling revelations. After the shootings, Brown was even accused by the police of having been in on the massacre simply because he had been friends with the killers.

Now, for the first time, Brown, with journalist Rob Merritt, gets to tell his full version of the story. He describes the warning signs that were missed or ignored, and the evidence that was kept hidden from the public after the murders. He takes on those who say that rock music or video games caused Klebold and Harris to kill their classmates and explores what it might have been that pushed these two young men, from supposedly stable families, to harbor such violent and apocalyptic dreams.

Shocking as well as inspirational and insightful, No Easy Answers is an authentic wake-up call for all the psychologists, authorities, parents, and law enforcement personnel who have attempted to understand the murders at Columbine High School. As the title suggests, the book offers no easy answers, but instead presents the unvarnished facts about growing up as an alienated teenager in America today.

I wasn’t aware that Brooks Brown wrote a book so soon after the massacre. I discovered this one through Sue Klebold’s A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy.

Brooks insight is a stark contrast of how a mother sees her son versus friends the same age.

Within reading the first chapter, I knew this would be an interesting perspective and relateable, as Brooks is close to my age and experienced much of what was happening in society and high school at the same time. Nostalgic, remembering how I was treated in high school, an “outcast”, bullied and subsequently called down to the principal’s office on multiple occasions after the shootings.

A little elementary in writing style, that’s to be expected from someone who wasn’t a born writer but became one via life circumstances. Rob Merritt, a journalist from Iowa, helped flesh out Brook’s story.

I was instantly drawn in by Brooks observation how, after a tragedy like this, people are desperate to find something to cast the blame on. Movies, video games, music; but the violence in these themes are a product of our society, and not the other way around. Violent entertainment is in demand; it’s a symptom, not a cause. It begins with a predisposition and then experiences fill in the blanks.

The first part of this book goes through Brooks early friendship with Dylan, how he met Eric, his falling out with and making back up with Eric, the warning signs and red flags that the police dropped the ball on, and his general perspective on school, bullying, and relationships.

The second part is about the aftermath of the massacre, how Brooks was a suspect and later ostracized by classmates simply by having been friends with Eric and Dylan and how he finally cleared his name by raising awareness of how the police department swept much of the warning signs and red flags under the rug when he filed a report with concerns about death threats made by Eric Harris and his talk of pipe bombs.

He describes what he heard through his parents, media, and police reports about The Basement Tapes which, to this day, have never been released to the public. Three hours of footage; Eric and Dylan venting and explaining why they did what they did.

The book was alright. I sort of felt like Brooks has some kind of offbeat guilty pride in being a victim in Columbine, a kind of attentive eagerness to be involved in this tragedy. However, he was a part of this and he has all the right to tell his story if it helps him. He made a lot of good points, but never elaborated; I just wish he would have went more in depth with issues he only alluded to.

I also got the sense that this was his way of getting retribution on the sheriffs who put him and his family through hell. As they drug his name through the dirt, it’s his way of exacting revenge and pointing the finger back.

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