When Dad Killed Mom
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When Dad Killed Mom

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  624 ratings  ·  108 reviews
For use in schools and libraries only. Jenna and Jeremy knew their parents' marriage was in trouble. Mom and Dad didn't talk much, and when they did, they had to work really hard to be civil to each other. But no one could have predicted what would come next.
199 pages
Published by Turtleback Books (first published May 1st 2001)
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Imagine one day you are in class then you get called into the office thinking that you might just be in your own trouble then find out that your dad had shot your mom. Well, that's exactly what happened to the Jenna and Jeremy in this book. When Jenna and Jeremy's dad shoots and kills their mom, their lives are profoundly affected beyond just the loss of their mother. As their father sits in jail awaiting trial, Jenna, who was their dad's favorite, and Jeremy, who was their mother's fave, find t...more
Anna Motteler
Dec 23, 2008 Anna Motteler rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE.
"Jenna and Jeremy knew their parents' marriage was in trouble. Mom and Dad didn't talk much, and when they did, they had to work really hard at being civil. But no one would have predicted what came next. The headline read COLLEGE SHRINK KILLS WIFE, and suddenly everything changed.
Now with Mom dead and Dad in jail, Jenna and Jeremy must re-create a life and family of their own. But a silent distance grows between them as each guards a secret that could send their fragile new lives into a tailsp...more
Lester writes an honest, painful narrative of what it means to be the surviving child of a murderer and the murder victim. There are all the mundane things they don't make movies about, like trying to go back to school after the funeral or trying to act normal around other kids when you feel like they're from another world now, or worse, realizing you are an orphan with a living parent you sometimes wish were dead. There is beautiful character development, honest language, and some pretty insigh...more
I've just finished up reading ''When Dad Killed Mom'' by Julius Lester. It has been a very interesting book to read and definitely have enjoyed it. The book can pretty much be defined by the title. It shows the emotions and actions two children went through after there father was thrown in prison for killing there mother in broad daylight. The author explains his reasoning for writing this book in the back of it. He explains that when he looks at people he wonders what they have gone through or...more
Whenever I see stories on the news about a husband killing his wife or vice versa, two questions pop into my head: "Why did they do that?" and "What is going to happen to their kids (if they have any)?" Julius Lester answered my second question flawlessly and even took a good crack at the first one.

I will be honest. I was not expecting much out of this little novel. I got it with a bunch of other books at the Goodwill. The plot seemed interesting so I added it to the pile. I didn't even consi...more
Eva Leger
I'm trying so hard to understand the ratings and reviews here. So, so hard. But I just can't.
This is an icky book. And, if you took all of the ickiness out the book would STILL suck. That's bad folks. Just bad.
I'd pay anyone my entire life savings right now if they can find me one - ONE - boy or girl the ages of the girl and boy in this story that would act as these two characters act in this story. I defy everyone out there.
And yes, believe you me, I do know, very well I might add, that everyon...more
For more, check out my blog entry.

I admire the effort Julius Lester made with this book. We see these sensational headlines in newspapers and on television and think about the victim and the perpetrator, but we rarely think about what it must be like for these families beyond, 'Oh, how tragic. That must be terrible for them.' However, I don't think Lester did a very good job capturing the voice and emotion of these characters. I didn't believe either Jenna or Jeremy as genuine characters. Most...more
I was quite little when I read this (probably shouldn't have stole it from my older sister!), so a lot of the stuff horrified me. I didn't understand most of what I was reading, to be honest. But I still loved the book. Even at that age. So when I got older, I decided to re-read it, to see if it indeed was a good book. My younger-self was not wrong. It is a great book! It's one of those books that you just want to read over and over again! Sadly, I don't actually own the book otherwise, I think...more
Sandra Strange
Although the protagonists are young, 12 and 14, the book is not suitable to younger readers, since it deals graphically with near incest and shows a daughter subconsciously seducing her father. The novel switches from son to daughter over and over as it tells the story of siblings struggling to make sense of their dad’s shooting of their mother, then putting together various incidents recalled, journal entries, testimony from friends to find out what happened, really, and why. The story is well...more
This book is about 2 kids who's mom was killed by their dad. They knew that their parents didnt get along but they didnt know that it will lead to someone's death. They have to make a decision if they want to testify for their dad to get out of jail or not.
This book was very interesting, i got a sense of what kids who lost their parents feel like, the kinds of emotions they went through. This book made me think about what death would be like because they keep mentioning their dead mother and wh...more
I have never been a one-sitting reader. No matter how compelling a book, there have always been things in the outside world more compelling to me.

When I found this book at the library this afternoon, I picked it up because the title intrigued me. I didn't bother sampling it, but figured I'd read a page or two here and there like I do most books.

Wrong. I read this book in two sittings, and would have read it in one save for real-world responsibilities. I usually like to sit and mull a book over...more
Montague Emily
I really enjoyed this book. It was one of those books where you wanted to keep reading and not put it down until you are finished. This book was a pretty quick and easy read that you can finish in less then a day (if you wanted to). That is saying a lot coming from me because I am a very slow reader. Overall this was a great book.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I expected this to be much better written than it was, given the status of the author (Newbery and Coretta Scott King Award winner). The characters didn't act believably, nor did they say things I though teenagers would say. Neal Shusterman's What Daddy Did was much better.
JttR T
-the beginning
-was quite slow
-as i dragged
-myself through it
-such a book
-like this
-reminded me of
-something i
-would have
-been forced to
-read for school
-though the action
-at the end
-where all the
-secrets spilled
-was shocking
Jesycca Cousineau
Okay, this book was unrealistic, riddled with plotholes, and full of "ick." I mean, drawing vaginas in a public restroom? The father being aroused by his daughter and she being somewhat okay with that ("I was flattered and grossed out at the same time")?

This book had potential. It focused on children struggling with the fact that their father murdered their mother and the aftermath of the situation. I had high hopes, but I was severely disappointed. In other words, I want a refund of the hours s...more
A good book for middle/high school readers. It's a high interest story told in the voices of two compelling kids. A very positive message as these kids wrestle with an incredibly difficult and painful situation.
Jun 12, 2007 Ren rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I loved this book. It was a little depressing, but it was so wonderful. Following these kids on their journey was really inspiring.
Very gripping book, considering how it examines what happens when domestic violence turns into a murder. I had a trouble reading the book because I couldn't relate with one of the protagonists, but around the middle of the book, she started to grow on me. One of the things that stood out to me was how both of the characters - it's told from the point of view of the son and daughter - grew up and dealt with the reality of their situation. Easy read, finished it in two days of sporadic reading. If...more
Becca Bindert
How did you pick this Book?
I am not a very big reader so I don’t really know what books are really good and what not, so I just picked this book off the shelf and started reading. No one really recommended this book for me.

Were this Book takes place.
This book takes place in a town called South Birchfield. Mostly at Jenna and Jeremy’s house. The end of the book takes place in the courtroom and at the cemetery were Rachel, Jenna and Jeremy's mom is buried.

What crisis is the character facing? Exte...more
A clumsy, ham-handed, and thoroughly phony attempt to deal with controversial but important issues.
Kathryn Leonorio
Jenna and Jeremy knew their parents’ marriage was in trouble. Mom and Dad didn’t talk much, and when they did, they had to work really hard to be civil to each other. But no one could have predicted what would come next. The headline read, COLLEGE SHRINK KILLS WIFE, and suddenly everything changed. Now with Mom dead and Dad in jail, Jenna and Jeremy must re-create a life and a family of their own—somehow.

Award-winning author Julius Lester tells a heartbreaking story about domestic violence, its...more
"I'm tired of thinking and I'm really tired of Feeling."

—Jenna Richards, "When Dad Killed Mom", P. 62

"What would they do if I said I hurt so much I feel like I want to die?"

—Jeremy Richards, "When Dad Killed Mom", P. 75

I would give this book four and a half stars.
"When Dad Killed Mom" is one of the most powerful pieces of literature that I have ever experienced. Taking the form of a young adult story entwined intimately with a juvenile story thread (as a result of the alternating perspecti...more
Jenna and Jeremy are pulled out of school one day and informed that their dad killed their mom. He shot her in broad daylight on a city street in front of witnesses. Jenna, her father's favorite, can't come to terms with her dad doing something so awful. Jeremy, his mom's favorite, wants nothing to do with his dad. The two kids have to deal with the aftermath of the killing and their father's incarceration. They have to figure out what really happened and who their parents were. Jenna learns mor...more
What would you do if one day you went to school and everything was normal when you left? You woke up to your normal every day routine and went to school. Nothing too out of the ordinary going on, but while you were at school something happened that would change your entire life forever. Jenna and Jeremy knew their parent’s relationship with one another was not the best. They rarely talked to each other anymore and when they did they would argue. But nothing could have prepared Jenna and Jeremy f...more
Carley Grab
This story is told, in alternating chapters, through the eyes of Jeremy and Jenna, the twelve-year-old son and fourteen-year-old daughter of Rachel, who has just been shot in the face two times by their father, Eric, a psychologist at the local college. The two children each share their separate views on their mother and struggle with what to believe about their father’s reasons for doing what he did. The story is a believable account of two children who are struggling to make sense of the world...more
 Imani ♥ ☮
When Dad Killed Mom is pretty self explanatory. The dad kills the mom of this little boy named Jeremy and this girl named Jenna. This book was kind of confusing at first, however. The first chapter(there are alternating POV) is Jeremy and he's all sweet and innocent. Next chapter is Jenna and she's a teenager and she starts talking about drawing her private parts ???? Very random. But anyway, I liked the concept of this story and I think more people should know about this book because it is a ve...more
This semester I read the book 'When Dad Killed Mom'. When I was reading this book, I started to feel really bad for Jenna and Jeremy. Their Mom had just been recently murdered, and their Dad was the possible suspect. In this book, I found that a lot of what was happening in this book, could relate to stuff happening right now in real life. People killing other people, trials, and the worse part.. The agonizing pain of losing a loved one. If I were in Jenna and Jeremy's situation, I really wouldn...more
What a compelling, sad, painful read that you know is happening all over to kids today. Julius Lester has crafted a "ripped from the headlines" story about a psychology professor killing his artist wife and the wake it leaves for the two children, parents and friends. Even though it takes place in the 90's, it could be today...Jenna and Jeremy are brother and sister who are completely different but try to struggle through what has happened in alternating chapters. Jenna is a headstrong, foul mou...more
Wow! This book just blew me away. The content is mind blowing. Two seemingly content and adjusted adults, Rachel/mom/artist and Eric/dad/psychologist have a marriage that is disintegrating until the horrible fateful day when Eric kills Rachel by two bullets to the head in front of a coffee shop in broad daylight. The story is told in turns by their two children Jenna and Jeremy who are about at the age of adolescence. Subsequently, Jenna and Jeremy have to make some very adult decisions. Among t...more
A violent depressing book about Jeremy and Jenna finding out that their father had gunned down their own mother. The murderer all happened because of career jealousy. Because of this one problem, it separated the family making it fall apart. Jenna likes her mom more than her father while Jeremy is the opposite. During trial, their father had lied about everything and tried to blame it on the mother to make it seem like its all her fault. This is one of my favorite books because I love the author...more
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Do u think the dad should have killed the mom 2 8 Feb 29, 2012 09:07AM  
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I was born on January 27, 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri. From 1941-1954 I lived in Kansas City, Kansas, and from 1954-1961 in Nashville, Tennesse. I received a B.A. in English from Fisk University in 1960.

In 1961 I moved to New York City where I had a talk radio show on WBAI FM from 1966-1973, hosted a television talk show on WNET from 1969-1971.

Since 1968 I have published 43 books. Among the awards...more
More about Julius Lester...
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“I'm tired of thinking and I'm really tired of Feeling.

—Jenna Richards”
“But I want you around even when I don't need you.
—Jeremy Richards”
More quotes…