Columbine by David Cullen is probably the most thorough book written about the tragedy and while I applaud it’s content, I hated the way in which it was formatted. In an effort to give readers a complete picture of the event without boring everyone with a lot of preamble, the author opts to intersperse the background narrative with the actual events leading up to the day in which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot up Columbine High School leaving 13 people dead and several more injured.
I’m not a fan of time hops in books so when an author jumps from the crime to the killer’s upbringing to the victims, how they got the weapons they used to the scene in the library and science lab to the journals the boys kept, the trouble they had with the police, their part-time jobs at the local pizzeria, the aftermath, the memorials, and their self-inflicted deaths…I think I might have been better off watching a documentary.
Don’t get me wrong, all of this is important and I am glad it was included, but it was tedious to follow and in the end…I walked away from the book unfulfilled. In the end 15 people lost their lives that day, a day that still doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. I am floored that the boys were able to get the weapons they had, to make the arsenal they did and no parent know what was going on. It was obvious from the text that the families certainly knew there were some issues and the boys had been in trouble before, but it was also clear that a whole lot of people dropped the ball where these two were concerned and maybe had something gone differently 4/20/99 would have had a happier ending for the students of Columbine.
That being said, my sympathies are with all of the families who lost children on that terrible day, including the families of the killers. These people will be maligned for life and they had to suffer without the global support given to the others. It similar to Oswald’s family…when you are the kin of the killer, you are the loneliest people on the planet.
Unless you want to be reminded of the Columbine tragedy, do not mind books that jump around a lot and in the end leave you feeling empty and bereft, I don’t recommend this one. It’s too big of a downer and you are left with more questions than answers. Bag It.