Cannonball Read IV #39
I was 16 years old on April 20, 1999. My birthday was less than a week prior to this day and I was pretty much having the worst, most stressful and emotional year of my life. (I mean, I’m pretty sure I just described everyone’s sophomore year in high school but humor me, ok?) So when I was sitting in biology class and our teacher told us, with a strange look on her face, “There’s been a shooting,” I was kind of pulled out of my own self. School shootings weren’t “popular” in the late 90s, weren’t sensationalized the way they are now, and the Columbine shooting shook me and my classmates up and scared us to the reality of what really was out there. In the weeks that followed, there were bomb threats in my own moderately-sized high school of just over 2,000 students. We had evacuations and counseling and all kinds of letters sent home to our parents and guardians. Some day, but kids will ask me where I was on 9/11. I’m also afraid they’ll ask me where I was on 4/20/99.
As I grew up, I was always fascinated by what caused Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris to do what they did. After all, I was a dorky kid. I was teased and I didn’t fit in and even though I had friends, I was not cool. I love that these same thoughts are ones that Dave Cullen visits in his book Columbine. Essentially, Cullen has researched and interviewed people regarding the events that lead up to that horrific day. I don’t think I need to get too much more detailed with the plot of the book as that one sentence and the title pretty much give it away.
Cullen was a journalist during the Columbine event and relies on his own work as well as works of other journalists, legal documents, and first hand interviews with survivors and parents of survivors of the attack. He interviews countless people and pieces it all together to find out that Dylan and Eric, while weird kids, weren’t necessarily part of any trench coat mafia and didn’t bear the kind of mockery that the media so widely reported.
Many people have argued that Cullen formed his own conclusions after his research and those conclusions aren’t accurate, and while I cannot speak for the accuracy of his ideas, I can say that duh he formed his own conclusions. That’s the point of research and while I wouldn’t count this one book as a definitive account of the Columbine massacre, I think it’s important to read it if you’re every trying to fully understand what happened the lovely April day that woke me and my classmates up from the sleep we’d been in.