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

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  13,164 Ratings  ·  2,376 Reviews
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
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Hardcover, 305 pages
Published February 15th 2016 by Crown
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Amy I agree with those who have said it gives one a renewed sense of purpose. It is definitely worth the read and changed my perspective on the parents of…moreI agree with those who have said it gives one a renewed sense of purpose. It is definitely worth the read and changed my perspective on the parents of Dylan. It is sad, but down to earth and honest. I believe Sue was very brave for writing this book and knowing that 100% of the profits goes to brain health and suicide prevention is an awesome gesture on her part.(less)
Moe If you subscribe to SCRIBD you can get the audio book. Sue reads it herself and you can feel the pain in her voice. She did well conveying her…moreIf you subscribe to SCRIBD you can get the audio book. Sue reads it herself and you can feel the pain in her voice. She did well conveying her feelings.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Denisa
Over the years, after a long time researching the Columbine case, I'd learned to view Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris as human beings. It was nearly impossible not to, considering I spent my time reading their journals, private online conversations, websites, jokes, accounts from friends and loved ones and teachers who liked and praised them as well as watching homemade videos they made for fun. Ever since I started the research, I knew I couldn't view them as monsters because it was far too simpl ...more
Sheila
Feb 10, 2016 Sheila rated it really liked it
I have to admit I felt a little hesitant to order this at first, until I saw "All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues."

Now that I have finished reading it, I am very glad to have purchased and read it. The story was not what I was expecting, and the heart break and anguish that Sue Klebold experienced, and was willing to share, makes me want to reach out and hug her. Columbine was a tragedy all around, and th
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Deanna
Nov 28, 2016 Deanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually started listening to this in the summer. I only finished it recently. I find these books very hard to review.

I think this audio hit me harder then I expected. It was even more emotional as it is narrated by Sue Klebold. It took her many years to write this book. She knew there would never be a "right" time for it. She knows people blame her and her husband. She blames herself in many ways. What did they miss? Could she have stopped it?

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started list
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Carol
"Her book is a tribute to Dylan without being an excuse, and a moving call to action for mental health advocacy and research."

A MOTHER'S RECKONING is a detailed and graphic account of the carefully planned massacre that occurred at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. It includes information on the recorded basement tape video made by Eric and Dylan as well as documented statements from their diaries and Sue's own journal.

A great deal of this memoir is written from the perspective of what ac

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Jaclyn Day
There’s no question that Klebold’s story is horrifying—a story of mass murder and its aftermath that blessed few of us will ever have to tell. In the wake of epic tragedy, how does a parent come to terms with their child murdering other children and adults? How does a mother or a father miss the signs of impending doom, the stockpiled weapons? This book is Klebold’s attempt to tell her story: the story of their family life, their parenting, and the complete and utter lack of signs leading up to ...more
Dem
Feb 19, 2017 Dem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think now more than ever in a time when the Internet and Social Media has become such a huge part of teenagers and children's every day life and parents struggle to know exactly what their kids are browsing or becoming sucked into, this book raises important alarms or even important discussions which as parents we need to be having.

I had recently read Columbine by Dave Cullen and when a goodreads member reviewed A Mother's Reckoning Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold by Sue Klebold I really wanted to read it to try and understand why a teenager could commit such horri
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Esil
Feb 29, 2016 Esil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
It would be easy to admire Sue Klebold for her courage in writing a Mother’s Reckoning. But having listened for the past few weeks to the audio version of Klebold’s book with rapt attention and a knotted stomach, I think it is probably more accurate to thank Klebold for openly sharing part of her journey in dealing with her son Dylan’s participation in the Columbine shootings. This book is heart wrenching and fascinating, but it very much feels like something Sue Klebold had to write for her own ...more
Kelli
Mar 04, 2016 Kelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this audiobook more than two weeks ago and I still really don't know how to review it. It was heartbreaking. I was not a mother when Columbine happened. I was stunned when I saw the news that day but I can't recall ever considering how the mothers of the shooters might be feeling. Ever. This is devastating. Sue Klebold's life as she knew it ended abruptly on that day 17 years ago when she not only lost her son, but was left behind to piece together a puzzle that could never be complet ...more
Snotchocheez
Dec 07, 2016 Snotchocheez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars


I can't believe it's been 17 years (and dozens of mass shootings henceforth) since the horrible events of April 20, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado. The havoc wrought at Columbine High School that spring day would become the very essence of parents' nightmares in the US and world-wide. I didn't become a parent until nine years after Columbine, but I'm sure its hoary tendrils have subconsciously wormed their way into my worst fears: how can I possibly keep my kid safe when I send her to school
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Dianne
Sep 25, 2016 Dianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
I am not sure how you review something like this - a mother's recounting of a cherished son's life, the heinous act he commits and the aftermath of that act on her life and family. I'm giving it a 3.5 just in terms of the writing, readability and narrative flow but I am in no position to review the veracity of what happened here.

All I can say is that I feel great sympathy for Sue Klebold and everyone affected by this tragedy. She does a great job of giving readers insight into what it would be l
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Lily
Feb 17, 2016 Lily rated it did not like it
Sue Klebold's narrative is extremely difficult to relate to and empathize with. This book reads like a taut justification defending how good her family is, while very subtly hinting at how "others" live:

"I hadn't even been one of those cool parents who smokes pot with their kids or introduces them to their groovy boyfriends." (119).

So what's she saying here about single moms? Hmm...

From the first chapters, which begin on the day of the shooting, the author focuses specifically on her own image
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Jonetta
When the Columbine massacre occurred in April of 1999, I recall judging the parents. After all, there had to have been some extremely obvious signs for their sons to be able to do something like this. Or, they were so disengaged in their lives they were just plain oblivious. If nothing else was accomplished (and there definitely is more), this book has changed my outlook. I'll never, ever again "assume" anything close to this kind of thinking or judge.

I was most interested in hearing from the p
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Sera
Feb 15, 2016 Sera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: Book Page
I give Klebold much credit for writing this book and for putting herself out here where many will continue to ridicule her, hold her in contempt or just full out not believe what she has to say. Even she understands how difficult it is for people to accept that sometimes parents don't know that their child is planning to do something terrible, and that if the child does do something terrible, that the terrible act is not always the result of poor parenting. How could you not know that Dylan was ...more
Chelsey
Feb 24, 2016 Chelsey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, be-a-force
This book deserves a more eloquent review than I can muster this late in the evening. For now I will say that this broke my heart with it's bravery, honesty and compassion. More to come soon.

Update: Upping this to 5 stars because I haven't stopped thinking about it since I put it down.
Carol
April 20, 1999 – Columbine High School – Littleton, Colorado
Who does not remember this day when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve students, one teacher, wounded twenty-four others, and then took their own lives?

A Mother’s Reckoning Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy is Sue Klebold’s undertaking to describe what it is like to be the mother of the child who committed this horrible act, to give a portrait of her life, her family, before and after this mass killing.

Sue Klebold had question
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Lucille Zimmerman
I live here in Littleton and knew people involved in the tragedy. I attend the church that planted 15 trees (including two for Dylan and Eric). I have probably crossed paths with Sue a hundred times, maybe a thousand, but I don't know her. I have close friends that lived near the Klebold home. We joined those friends in praying as they left notes on her mailbox, etc.

I have a private counseling office one mile south of Columbine High School. Not a day goes by when I drive by the school that I do
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Neja
Feb 25, 2017 Neja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very painful book to read. When we hear about the actions of murderers we always think to ourselves: "How could they've done that? What a monster! Poor victims and their loved ones!" But we never think about the killer's loved ones. They are also a victim. They had nothing to do with murders but people judge them and make their life a living hell. Not only they lost a loved one if this is a murder-suicide situation, they don't get any sympathy from people for their loss.

This book is r
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Katie
Feb 15, 2016 Katie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Looks like I am in the minority on this one. Let me start off by saying whenever one of these horrific events happens, I always feel so badly for the family because I know they are going to be blamed and that is not fair at all. However 80% of this book is her telling me what a normal family they were and what I normal childhood he had (and I believe it) and the other 20% that he had a brain disease and was suicidal (and I believe that too). However we never get any insight as to why he tipped o ...more
Mel
As soon as I watched Sue Klebold's interview with Diane Sawyer, I knew I was going to read this. And honestly, I would have read this anyways because Columbine has always interested me. While I knew essentially everything in this book about the shooting itself and the aftermath, learning more about Dylan's life before, his final days before, his life, and especially Sue's life, really was interesting and helped me understand a little bit more about the kind of people who do these sorts of things ...more
Stacy
Feb 29, 2016 Stacy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sigh, where to start. First, I want to deeply discredit reviews that state this book is nothing but a mother making excuses for her son. It is actually the exact opposite of that, and at times, almost has nothing to do with her son, but more of raising awareness on suicide and mental health. (She actually calls it brain health and brain illness throughout her book, for a very smart reason. Mental refers to something intangible, and some experts believe that if we change the terminology from ment ...more
Kristin
Feb 22, 2016 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh man, I am very glad to be done with this book. It's a five star book, but it was seriously starting to mess with my head. I am actually getting nightmares due to the gravity of the material, so be warned! It's not for the faint of heart! It actually pairs nicely with the book Columbine, by Dave Cullen, but it's probably best to space out your tragic readings. This book especially haunts me because I am a mother, and I can't imagine having to lead Sue Klebold's life after the Columbine shootin ...more
Michael
Oct 21, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
April 20, 1999, and Littleton, Colorado would become the center of America and the world's attention, due to an unimaginable tragedy. Students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would walk into Columbine High School and in the space of minutes would shoot dead 12 students and a teacher and leave 24 injured before turning the guns on themselves. But behind these gruesome scenes, that saw a small community lose its innocence and seen the media speculating as to why such an event could occur two sets o ...more
Shaun
Aug 31, 2016 Shaun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shaun by: Elisa
If you're looking for additional answers or insight into why Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris brutally murdered and injured over 3 dozens classmates, I doubt you'll find them here. I'm not sure we will ever completely solve the problem that is or produces a mass murderer.

However, if you're interested in the grieving process unique to the parent of a reviled killer, I doubt few books could compare.

To begin with, Klebold is a talented and articulate writer who is smart, thoughtful, and reflective and
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Claudia Putnam
The best part of this was Andrew Solomon's introduction. After the grace and facility of Solomon's writing, Klebold falls flat... and sadly, she doesn't deliver the promised depth or reflection. There are heartfelt moments, but she mostly wants us to know that they were good parents who tried hard, didn't spoil their son (though if you ask me perhaps they could have spoiled him a bit more--they struck me as neurotically over-involved and a bit strict, though nowhere near enough to have created a ...more
Jamise
Apr 18, 2016 Jamise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
I didn't know what to expect when I started the journey of reading Sue Kleblod's story. However when I finished I felt an overwhelming sense of compassion. As a mother, I can't fathom her struggle, denial and heartbreak with having her son commit one of the most historic mass shootings in American history - Columbine.

Initially Mrs. Klebold's constant denial and looking to cast blame elsewhere annoyed me. However I realized that this guilt and unimaginable grief was not for me to judge. She was
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Amy
Jun 02, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could make a required reading list for parents, this book would top it. Klebold painfully writes openly about her son Dylan and his involvement in the Columbine shooting. A family, not unlike our family, that offered love and support to their son, becomes part of one of biggest tragedies in history, in part, because they were unaware of their son’s depression. Klebold has devoted her life to helping in the advance of mental health awareness and intervention, even donating all proceeds to or ...more
Emily
Feb 29, 2016 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, crime, 2016
I have no idea why, out of all the things I'm waiting for from the library, this showed up, but it did and I could hardly put it down.

Sue Klebold doesn't say so directly, but I think it was the publication of Columbine that made this book possible, because Cullen's righting of the record showed that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were quite different people, and perhaps Klebold's behavior, at least, might have some explanation. It's no coincidence which of the mothers has written a book.

This wor
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Tara Brock
Feb 16, 2016 Tara Brock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking, brave, there are so many words to describe this book and none seem adequate.
What Sue Klebold has done is nothing short of amazing. Her desire to help others started way before any of us knew her name.
This book humanizes someone most of us saw as a monster and we see that he wasn't the sum total of the headlines we have read. He could've been a son we loved as much as she did. That is a hard thing to grasp, but I thank her for writing this book.
I think her decision to donate the
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Liza Fireman
Sep 28, 2016 Liza Fireman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so important, and not only because it sheds light on the Columbine massacre and Dylan's life and family, but because it sheds light on troubled teenagers life, and how easy it is for them to hide what their real life is from their family. I would recommend this book for every parent, even if you have the most perfect child it will be a good idea to read this.

In this really touching book Sue Klebold, Dylan's mom allows the reader to get into her life and feelings. How does it feel to
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Elizabeth
Feb 04, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I've always been amazed by school shootings (as is everyone, but like super into researching them), and I even did my paper in my social work class last semester on school shootings. And the thought has crossed my mind multiple times what kind of parents school shooters have. So much of who I am is because of my parents, and so many of my decisions and my thoughts are because of what my parents have instilled in me. So then it makes you wonder what the kids who end up shooting up their school we ...more
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Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters at Columbine High School in 1999 who killed 13 people before ending their own lives, a tragedy that saddened and galvanized the nation. She has spent the last 15 years excavating every detail of her family life, and trying to understand the crucial intersection between mental health problems and violence. Instead of becoming paral ...more
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“The ultimate message of this book is terrifying: you may not know your own children, and, worse yet, your children may be unknowable to you. The stranger you fear may be your own son or daughter.” 14 likes
“We teach our kids the importance of good dental care, proper nutrition, and financial responsibility. How many of us teach our children to monitor their own brain health, or know how to do it ourselves?” 7 likes
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