When Sue Klebold decided to write a book about her son Dylan, she set a daunting task. How to express her love for the boy she raised—without minimizing the horror of his acts?
Why I love it
When Sue Klebold decided to write a book about her son Dylan, who along with Eric Harris massacred 12 fellow students and a teacher at Columbine High School in 1999, she set herself a daunting task. How to express her love for the boy she raised—without minimizing the horror of his acts? Would she seem to be "cashing in" (despite donating profits to charity)? And would she sound defensive—not to mention clueless—if she insisted on what she believes is the truth: that Dylan, who died by his own hand on that hellish day, never showed signs of his disturbance?
Not only does A Mother's Reckoning manage to avoid all those pitfalls, it's also a riveting read. The day Dylan was born, Sue was "overcome," she writes, "by a strong premonition: this child would bring me a terrible sorrow." Not the superstitious type, she shook the feeling off and watched her younger son grow into a sweet, shy boy who loved origami and plastering his mom's face with kisses. He had some unremarkable problems as a teen: periodic sullenness, indications he'd been mildly bullied at school, and finally an arrest for stealing video equipment. But by senior year he seemed to be back on track, had close friends and even took a girl to prom—"the best night of my life," he told Sue afterwards—just days before his and Eric's deadly rampage.
So what went wrong? Sue makes a convincing case that her 17 year old was hiding a deep depression that left him vulnerable to Eric's more active psychopathology. She urges parents and teachers to learn from her experience and to watch their teens carefully, taking even small indications of distress seriously. Dylan destroyed countless lives and shattered his family. Sue admits she will never understand his actions, but she's forged meaning amid devastation by devoting her life to mental health awareness. You'll finish her brave book wanting to hug your children close—and applauding her.