Tag Archives: Sue Klebold

Book Club Reflection: A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

19 May

I read the book so long ago that A Mother’s Reckoning felt like this meeting was never going to happen. We have had some disruptions at our library so that it even got canceled for a few days but then was back on. I ended up volunteering to lead the discussion. This was an emotional discussion for us because of the nature of Sue’s tragedy but I think we still had a good discussion.

It was hard for Klebold to grieve the loss of her son because outside of her immediate family, no one was grieving with her. They were angry at what Dylan had done and unable to see that she’d lost a child, too. One of our readers felt it was amazing Tom and Sue could get up every morning. Not only did they lose Dylan, but they also lost the child they thought Dylan was. Their Sunshine Boy ended up doing something unforgivable and they had to reconcile that. Sue did well writing this book and acknowledges she had help to do so. One thing we found throughout her writing is how much she blamed Eric for the tragedy. She says she recognizes that Dylan was a part of it, but she still seems to point a finger toward Eric.

There are a few parents in our group and we talked about the secrets that are kept between parents and children. Some readers shared stories of things they found out their children had done as teenagers that didn’t come out into the open until their 30s. Almost all of us admit to doing something our parents didn’t know about or lying to our parents about what we did. Some felt sorry for the parents of this generation. Growing up, there was a house phone and you knew who your kids were talking to and you had a chance to talk to their friends. Now, parents need to check their children’s phones for text and social media. Still, kids can hide a lot by deleting texts and creating second social media pages. Kids will always find a way if they want to.

Eric and Dylan were both early releases from their diversion program even though that was rare. They were able to put up a good front, similar to Ted Bundy and other unsavory people who knew how to win people over. Dylan lied about how he was feeling and the depression he was suffering from during his intake for the program. One reader pointed out that many times depressed individuals will lie about how they’re feeling because they don’t want to feel like a burden and talking about their depression can feel like burdening others.

The Columbine tragedy caused a lot of changes to our society. It was one of the early indicators of the problems associated with bullying. The teachers in the school are accused of not stopping a toxic culture of bullying that fueled the anger Dylan and Eric felt. They saw it so often that they thought it was normal and didn’t think it was worth speaking out against. This showed how dangerous it can be to normalize that behavior. There were two other readers on our call that were around my age and shared what they remembered changing in school after Columbine. We didn’t remember active shooter drills. I think those became more common after Sandy Hook. There’s been research that the drills are traumatizing for children. What we do remember is the number of bomb threats that were made in our schools afterward. One girl remembered monthly threats before a girl’s friends finally turned her in for making them. We recalled people who were known to do them to get out of tests. I remember one that was in the middle of my AP Spanish exam.

I think it’s fair to say school shootings are a curable disease in American culture. There’s a lot that can be done to limit them besides gun control measures: education around adolescent brain illness, anti-bullying campaigns, and encouraging students to speak up when their peers need help. Klebold is fighting for treatments for brain illness and we all commend her for her effort.

Our next meeting will be virtual as well, but the hope is that we’ll return to meeting in person soon. I just want to order some duck nuggets while we meet. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 29-April-2020

29 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Forward progress! I’m reading White Oleander by Janet Fitch in print now. I have a copy on my shelves so when I was ready for a new book, I grabbed this. Much easier than trying to renew an ebook every three weeks.
I moved The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz only my phone and I’m speeding through it. I suspect I’ll be done with it next week!
I finished the fourth section of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and I’m ready for my next Reading Buddy meeting. I hope it’s this week because I can’t wait to finish this one and write up a full review. Then we’ll have to pick another book. Oh boy, haha.
I’m glad to say I’m still moving forward with The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel. I’m enjoying the story which encourages me to pull it out and squeeze in a few pages when I can. I’m not sure how far into the book I am (trouble with my reading app) but I’d have to guess getting toward the middle. I’m excited to keep moving forward with this one.

Recently finished: I finished up Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn after posting last week. I really enjoyed this one! I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it or how I’d get through some non-fiction when escapism was really what I needed but it was enjoyable and a quick read. I posted my review on Monday and gave it a full Five out of Five Stars.
I was able to finish up The Alice Network by Kate Quinn with my increased listening time due to training. This one was pretty good but with the large number of WWII stories I’ve read in the past few years, it did seem a bit unoriginal. I’d still recommend it as a good story, but I wouldn’t say it stands out more than others. I posted my review yesterday and gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I think I need to start making plans again! For an audiobook, I’m hoping to start on The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson. This one came recommended by another blogger a while back and I do love some books about books!
For a physical book, I think I’m going to grab Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich. This was a gift many moons ago from a writer friend. I’m hoping it inspires me to do some writing and editing. I have a terrible NaNo that needs some love and quarantine should be a good time to do it, but I’ve had no motivation to try.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 22-April-2020

22 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: My plan for White Oleander by Janet Fitch is to pick up my physical copy of it once I finish with Moby Duck. I think I’ll get through it faster this way instead of waiting for holds and losing them so often.
I got through very little of The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz but I have a plan for this as well. Once I finish The Alice Network, I’ll put it on my phone and listen to it that way. I’m not going to be in the car much so I might as well find another way to listen to it.
I’m ready for the third meeting with my Reading Buddy on The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. This one has been a great escapist read for me and I keep flying through the sections as soon as I start them. I hope we meet soon.
I’m back to focusing on The Alice Network by Kate Quinn full time as my audiobook. I began my triathlon training plan this week so I suspect I’ll start getting through audiobooks a lot faster as I spend more time running and biking. I expect this one to be finished by next week.
I’ve found ways to keep myself moving through The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel as an ebook. I’ll play a game on my phone and switch between the two so I draw out both. It’s been a good way to kill a lot of time and still move forward with my ebook.
I’m really enjoying Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn. I didn’t think I’d get so into a non-fiction read just now but this topic is really interesting to me and I’m able to sit and read it for some long periods. It’s quite good.

Recently finished: I finished up A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold as fast as I could so another member of my book club could grab a copy. I wonder how much though our organizer put into picking the timing for this book. The anniversary of the Columbine shooting was this past Monday and I posted my review on the day as well. I initially gave the book Three out of Five Stars but changed my rating to Four after I reflected on it more.

Reading Next: Yet again, no plans for something else. I’m doing double duty on all my books already, it seems overwhelming to think of what’s next. Maybe in a week, I’ll have a better perspective.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold (4/5)

20 Apr

Today is the 21st anniversary of the Columbine shootings. I didn’t plan to post this on the anniversary but when I realized it would be close, I thought it fitting to use this day to remember the lives lost. I was in elementary school when Columbine happened. Growing up, we all knew about it and the Michael Moore documentary that followed. Moore has close ties to Michigan and the KMart World Headquarters he protests is located a stone’s throw from my in-law’s house. I remember reading the Cassie Bernall book She Said Yes when I was in high school. I finished public school just in time to avoid active shooter drills and I didn’t realize how pervasive they were until my husband started teaching. Columbine shook the nation and changed school campuses forever. I never reflected on how the lives of the shooters’ families changed, I was so fixated on the victims. Klebold is a good voice for the families.

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

I had really mixed emotions during this book. The overwhelming one was sadness. Dylan did a terrible thing and changed many lives forever. While the nation fumed and blamed his actions, his mother was conflicted. Was she at fault? When a dog misbehaves, we blame the owner. But what about a teenager? Can Sue be blamed for what Dylan did? Could she have stopped it? These questions were hard for her to answer and I’m not sure I came to a conclusive answer myself. She admits there were things she could have done to stop it, but Dylan hid his depression so well that most parents would not have noticed. I remembered my own high school depression and I wonder how well I hid it from my parents. Could they have been expected to know about my brain health problems? How can we be mad at Sue for not noticing Dylan’s?

Like most memoirs, I wonder how well Sue remembered the details of her story. She kept journals so I’m sure a lot of the actions and dialogue were taken from there, but I still wonder. Her parenting reminds me of my parents and I mean that as a compliment. She seemed to have high expectations and that she was trying to raise her kids without being their friend or a strict disciplinarian. Clearly, this parenting style isn’t one that spits out angry teens every time. But how much of this is true? I can’t say and no one will ever know for sure. I think she may have painted herself a little too favorably and Dylan a little too happy but I do believe her recalling of the events of his childhood. I believe that he hid his anger and depression deep inside him.

I would have liked to hear more about Byron. As Dylan’s older brother, I’d be interested to hear how he felt about growing up in the Klebold house and how he reacted to his brother’s actions. How surprised was he and how did he deal with being so closely tied to such a major tragedy? I also wonder how his last name affected him through the rest of his life and if he had a similar fear to Sue.

Unfortunately, I did relate to some of the characters in this story. Since high school, I’ve struggled with what I suspect is mild Depression, though I’ve never been diagnosed. Some of the facts and statistics Sue shared about depression in adolescents and adults hit a little close to home and shocked me. I never had any inclination to do what Dylan did, I want to make that clear. But some of his emotions were relatable to the memories I have of high school.

Sue Klebold
Image via Slate

I don’t know if I can say any part of the book was my favorite. A lot of this book was hard to read. I did find it interesting when Sue would reveal things about how she learned about Dylan, such as not seeing the Basement Tapes for years. I can’t imagine how she felt. Did she feel betrayed by the police for not showing her? Or was all her anger directed at Dylan? I can’t even begin to sympathize.

I wish Sue had left out the part where she described the shooting itself. I think that’s best left to anyone interested to research it because it seemed out of place in this book. I’m sure Sue struggled over whether to include it or not but I personally feel she made the wrong decision.

Sue narrating her own audiobook was a great choice. With an emotional topic like this, it’s great to hear the emotion from the writer instead of an actor. She had a lot to say and it never felt unprofessional or amateur. I wouldn’t recommend she go into audiobook narration, but she did a great job telling her own story.

Dylan wanted to be loved and his mother loved him deeply. She loved him as a child and she’s memorialized him with her love in death. Of course, she’s angry about how he died but she still loves him and wants to do everything she can to prevent another tragedy. If that’s not love, I’m not sure what is. It’s powerful.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think Sue wrote this book for many reasons. I think it was therapeutic for her. I also think she wanted to prove, in a way, that she wasn’t responsible for Dylan’s actions nor was she innocent. Yes, she could have done some things differently but she wasn’t negligent in her actions. She wants to educate others about what she could have done so that there’s a possibility of another tragedy being stopped. I’m not sure if she completely exonerated herself in my mind but she did a great job of educating me about what to look for in a person who might be considering self-harm.

Overall, a powerful book and one I won’t soon forget. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1980-1999 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold | The Bandwagon
A Mother’s Reckoning – Review | Late (For) Tea
Book Review | A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold | One More Page…
BONUS BOOK: A Mother’s Reckoning – Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold | The Banned Book Brigade

WWW Wednesday, 15-April-2020

15 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Solid hold on White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I’ve lost the hold on the ebook again. I own a physical copy of this book so I think I might visit it in that medium. The platform I’m using to get it as an ebook tends to have long wait times so I’d rather move to another platform where ebooks are more readily available.
I don’t think I’ve been alone in the car for a week so The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz is still where it was before. I’ll try to find some excuses to drive, but I don’t foresee that happening much.
I pushed my reading buddy to have our second meeting on The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern yesterday. I’m flying through this book and dragging her to keep up with me. I think we’ll get through it super fast since we’re both on lockdown right now and reading fantasy is a great way to escape reality.
I started on The Alice Network by Kate Quinn but have put it on hold because a more pressing hold came in. I was enjoying it a lot before I stopped so I hope to get back to it soon and keep moving forward.
That pressing hold was A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold on audio. My whole book club is fighting for a few copies of this one so I wanted to start it as soon as I could and start making my way through so someone else can get this copy before our meeting next month. It’s a hard book to read/listen to but also very interesting and well written. I think we’ll have a great discussion about it.
I switched my ebook to The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel. This is available on a platform that’s easier to use with my slow ebook-reading habit. I’ve just started and it’s not a long book but it will probably take me a while still.
Just to make this list longer, I started a new physical book as well. My logic is to read through my autographed books since I don’t like those leaving the house and I’m a bit homebound at the moment. I picked up Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn. I’m interested to see if I can fly through this one or if I need to switch to fiction to keep myself going for a while. Maybe I’ll switch back and forth.

Recently finished: I was able to finish Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago Friday morning. It was a great way to start off my Friday! It always feels great to finish my Spanish language read for the year. I was able to write up a review and get that posted on Monday. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.
I also read a short book, Pope Francis Speaks to Our Hearts. It was a collection of quotes from early in his papacy and a nice light thing to get into over Easter weekend. I gave it Three out of Five Stars and posted a review yesterday.

I also reviewed The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller last week. I’m still not sure if this book fell flat for me or if I had unrealistic expectations because of the author’s other books. Either way, I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: With how long my current reading list is, I’m not looking ahead. It’s too daunting.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 8-April-2020

8 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Stalemated with White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I’ll get to it eventually. But this one will languish.
I’ve been inside more and more so The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz hasn’t moved much. I’m still on disk three.
I’ve made good progress with Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago. I was hoping to have it finished this week but it’s slower for me to read in Spanish and I haven’t quite made it through yet. I suspect I’ll be done next week, though.
My reading buddy and I had our first Zoom Book Club meeting on Monday to talk about The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I didn’t realize I’d left us at such a cliffhanger so when we finished, we immediately found the next time we were both free to meet so we could keep moving forward.
I needed to make some changes for my next eaudiobook. My book clubs are starting to move online. I’m not sure if the one group will meet, but I’m still going to try to read The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. It has been one our club has been talking about for a while so I hope I enjoy it.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller pretty quickly. I had this book on my list after reading his first novel, Norwegian by Night. It was very different and I’m still considering how I feel about it. I think I had it set in my mind that it would be like Miller’s other books so I’m wondering if I’m disappointed at the difference or I truly didn’t enjoy it as much. Either way, look for a review tomorrow. I’m still debating my rating.

Reading Next: Needing to move forward with book club books, I’m hoping to start A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold. There’s a hold on this audiobook since my book club is reading it and we’re all hoping to get a copy. When it’s my turn, I’ll try to get through it as fast as I can.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!