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

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

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by Sue Klebold

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Now available in trade paperback, the acclaimed national bestseller by Sue Klebold about living in the aftermath of Columbine.

With a new preface from the author.

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


Now available in trade paperback, the acclaimed national bestseller by Sue Klebold about living in the aftermath of Columbine.

With a new preface from the author.

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. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.
All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Susan Dominus
A memoir by the mother of one of the Columbine killers could seem distasteful on its face: at best, a defensive account from an unreliable narrator; at worst, an inevitable end point to the media circus. But…[A Mother's Reckoning] reads as if [Klebold] had written it under oath, while trying to answer, honestly and completely, an urgent question: What could a parent have done to prevent this tragedy?…Politely, methodically, she eviscerates in the reader the dearly held conviction that had he or she been in Sue Klebold's place, all could have been prevented…She earns our pity, our empathy and, often, our admiration; and yet the book's ultimate purpose is to serve as a cautionary tale, not an exoneration.
Library Journal
The author, whose son Dylan was one of two shooters who massacred 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in 1999, uses recollections, journals, and the profoundly disturbing writings and video recordings he left behind to reconstruct events and ask hard questions: Why did Dylan go so very wrong? And what could she have done? With a 200,000-copy first printing.
From the Publisher
“…[U]nimaginably detailed, raw, minute-by-minute, illuminating, and just plain gripping. It's also the most extraordinary testament—to honesty, love, pain, doubt, and resilience.… This book is nothing less than a public service. I beseech you to read it.”
– Bruce Feiller

“As people read Sue’s memoir, what they will find is that her book is honest, and her pain genuine.  Her story may be uncomfortable to read, but it will raise awareness about brain health and the importance of early identification and intervention to maintain it.  If people listen to her – to all that she has experienced, and to how this has changed her – they will be quicker to respond to depression in young people, to the suicidal thinking that can accompany it, and to the rage that can build almost unnoticed in young people when the people who truly and completely love and care for them are distracted by other challenges in life.”
—Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America

“Required reading for all parents of adolescents...soul-piercingly honest, written with bravery and intelligence... A book of nobility and importance.” –The Times

 “Reading this book as a critic is hard; reading it as a parent is devastating….I imagine snippets of my own young children in Dylan Klebold, shades of my parenting in Sue and Tom.  I suspect that many families will find their own parallels….This book’s insights are painful and necessary and its contradictions inevitable.”
Carlos Lozada, The Washington Post

 “[Sue Klebold’s book] reads as if she had written it under oath, while trying to answer, honestly and completely, an urgent question: What could a parent have done to prevent this tragedy?…
She earns our pity, our empathy and, often, our admiration; and yet the book’s ultimate purpose is to serve as a cautionary tale, not an exoneration.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“[T]he parenting book everyone should read.”

 “I believe Sue Klebold.  So will you.”
—LA Times

“At times her story is so chilling you want to turn away, but Klebold’s compassion and honesty –and realization that parents and institutions must work to discover kids’ hidden suffering-will keep you riveted.”

“This book which can be tough to read in places is an important one. It helps us arrive at a new understanding of how Columbine happened and, in the process, may help avert other tragedies.” Rated: A.
—Entertainment Weekly

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Meet the Author

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 paralyzed by her grief and remorse, she has become a passionate and effective agent working tirelessly to advance mental health awareness and intervention.

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A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I give Sue a lot of credit for writing and publishing such a difficult book. She made me realize I was as guilty as others of easily blaming the parents of teens and young adults who commit violence. I didn't blame Timothy McVeigh 's parents, I assume because he was a full grown adult. Thank you for your view of how things happened and your insight on all you have learned in the years since the tragedy. Thanks to Sue for making me judge myself before I judge others for, I believe, the rest of my life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a senior in high school in 1999. The Columbine shootings are forever etched in my mind. Mostly because it could of happened in my school, it could of been one of my friends. I'm not sure the 17 years old me ever thought it was Dylan and Erics parents fault...and over the years since the attack, I don't think I ever blamed the parents . Now that I myself am a parent of 2 girls..I know that you cannot blame the parents. Sue was extremely honest in this book and I hope to have 1 ounce of the perseverance she has. She has taken a tragedy and turned into a mission of hope. Sure, the public would like to blame her and outcast her, but through this book and her honesty, you can see it could happen to any part.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a tough read, especially as a mother and a "suicide survivor", but it was very enlightening. The book touched me on many different levels. It also made me rethink my view of her as a parent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All I could think to put as the headline is the word suffering because Sue Klebold has suffered and continue to suffer every day of her life for the acts of her son and his victims and their families. She has had to basically wait 17 years to speak. The book is not gripping and sensational and it doesn't have to be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do not now remember what prompted me to read this book, but I am grateful for the honesty, integrity and care the author used to convey such an urgent message. As the mother of 5, I too felt the families of kids who perform violent acts against others must have some sense of the trouble brewing before that act was committed and should therefore be held accountable for not doing more in the way of help and prevention. This book has changed that belief forever and I have nothing but respect and compassion for Sue Klee bold and her willingness to expose so much of her personal struggle in an attempt to understand and help others understand the complexity of the problems involved in such a sensitive issue. The amount of research Sue has done and her passion to make resources and knowledge and tools available to those in need and those who know others who may be in need is truly remarkable. The fact that author profits from this book go to fund organizations designed to help people suffering with brain health issues make it all the more heartfelt to me. I would recommend this book to parents, teachers, health care professionals and anyone looking for enlightenment on such a misunderstood topic that is so essential to our health as a society. It has had a profound effect on my understanding of mental health and I believe it's potential to shed light and positively influence anyone willing to listen is tremendous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can you imagine something like this happening to you ? ? Its hard so many lives touched by this horrible act of violence.. This woman has lived about three lifetimes in one life. She is one strong woman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learned recently that history always remembers the names of a killer, but very few ever know the names of the victims. Like millions of people, I knew her name, but even with all of the information that came out after the tragedy at Columbine, I still didn't know her story… until now and for good reason, this isn’t a story that anyone else could have told. In the end, I learned that being a victim isn’t always reserved for those that are lost. Imagine living with the daily grief and disbelief that the child that you raised and loved for so many years, would grow up to be a killer and given that hindsight is often 20/20, you found yourself overlooking the signs of a mental illness that could have prevented such a tragedy. It is because of this fact and this fact alone that this book is not an easy read. This book will get under your skin. It will frustrate you. You will feel every word. It will grab a hold of you and won’t let go until you have read the last page and have closed the book. If you read this book and if you are a parent, I would suggest that you do… you will never again say the words that nobody ever wants to hear, “not my child.” I highly recommend this book. I’d also recommend another amazing book that I read and actually keep on my night stand; it is called “When God Stopped Keeping Score.” It takes a surprising look at the power of God and forgiveness. The story of the mothers and the ham, to the story of the father, the son and the bible, and the two men and the window is worth the price of the book. Buy it or borrow it, but read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have children or have children him your life please read this book. The author has been through a tremendous tragedy and has used it as a influence in her life to help others. It is unbelievable what are children experience on a daily basis, and a lot I we would have a hard time dealing with. Please read this book it will open your eyes and hopefully make us better parents so tragedies like this can be avoided in the future
Anonymous 7 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wasn't sure I wanted to read this, being concerned it would be dark and depressing. So glad I did because it is excellent. Intelligent, articulate, open and honest, Sue tells a hard truth...you may love your children beyond measure...but you may not really know them. Kudos to her for her courage in writing this excellent book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Changed my outlook. When Columbine happened I follow it closely in the news. I was curious what would drive two people to this. Additionally I always looked at mental health; book refers to it as 'brain health" or 'brain illness" and sucide, as a choice people make. While that it is a choice there are many underlying causes and issues that people deal with who are then driven to suicide. Additionally it is difficult to determine who is suffering from brain illness and who isn't. This book gave me a new prospective on looking at brain health/mental health, and how that is a large part of the violence and gun violence we see today. The book did give details that I found interesting, how Sue learned about Columbine and what all happened in the immediate hours, days, and months afterwards. The book then goes back to Sue's perspective on what she saw leading up to and after Columbine. Overall great read, and one that could be used as reference book, and gives insight to and recommendations on other books that deal with brain health issues.
HOOFPRINTS More than 1 year ago
Candid, heartbreakingly honest. It has forever changed my mindset on judging and blaming, vilfying the perpetrators families. Susan Klebold has lived with heartbreak, deep despair and sadness and decided to go further by looking into her son’s secret life, trying to understand the reason(s). What came out of it is a book to help other parents, families look into their teens daily life to hopefully prevent any further tragedies. It also let us be aware of the day to day living with despair, the family feels after the tragedy and suicide. A book bravely written with courage. Thank you. Sending peaceful thoughts to the family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sue, I want to thank you for writing this book. I think it is a gift to the world that you have spoken out in the way you did. How brave of you to open up your personal world in hopes of saving other children who are at risk. It is less risky to put yourself out there but by taking this risk you can really help other parents so much. Your love shines though and as the parent of two young people I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I think this book will save lives. Every parent of a teenage boy should read this book. Every parent should read this book.
natttyyyyyy More than 1 year ago
Beyond beautifully written. I tore through the pages in a matter of days.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I was at first enjoying this however more and more into it I became very upset. To me Sue is the epitome of the liberals in society who feel it is OK to occasionally check in on your children while you pursue your own "important" life. I feel she was NOT there for her children except for the cursory hello how is your day attitude. Believe me what she and her family was horrid and I certainly do not blame her or her family for her son's actions. He was an adult who made poor choices because of serious depression and persuasive friends. I do feel this book is more her asking for the pat on the back from people telling her it wasn't her fault compounded with excuses. She constantly second guesses herself but maybe the attention should have been less on herself and more on the family she wasvraising. Again, another symptom of the everyone gets a trophy everyone gets a hug let's talk about our feelings but keep it only on the surface.
Anonymous 12 months ago