REVIEW – Columbine by Dave Cullen

I have to give props to Dave Cullen for this compelling, emotional, in-depth account of the Columbine shootings and the events surrounding that day.

I consume a lot of true crime – mostly in the form of podcasts and books. This is the first time I’ve read a book about an event that I remember, instead of events that occurred before I was born (the Manson family Murders, Bundy, etc.) This book is probably one of the most disturbing, frustrating and heart wrenching things I have ever read.

Columbine was a defining moment for my generation. I was finishing up elementary school, just about to enter 7th grade, when the shootings took place. They undoubtedly had an effect on my junior high and high school experience. I remember rumors about the “goth” or “skater” (oh man, so 2000!) kids being violent, hating the “preps” and having so-called hit lists. I remember a bomb threat in 7th grade that forced the school to evacuate us to the gym of a nearby church – we spent the afternoon waiting for answers and eventually learned it was a hoax.

Of course, 9/11 had a much bigger impact on the nation a few years later, but Columbine always stuck with me because it seemed much more real to me. I had never been to NYC, but I had been in a school. I had known those stereotypical “goth” kids who were (wrongly) vilified in the media.

I think I would have struggled a bit less with this book if I had read it 10 years ago. Now I’m married to a high school teacher. I’ve experienced active shooter training. Some of the chapters of this book hit too close to home – frequently I had to pause, put the book down for a moment, and tell my husband I loved him. This will stick with me for awhile.

I can’t imagine the emotional toll that researching and writing this book might have had on Cullen, but I do think it needed to be written and I think he did an incredible job.

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