I’ve been on a bit of a true crime kick after reading Columbine by Dave Cullen. The following audiobooks deal with a different crime. They’re all informative in their own way.
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
Sue Klebold is the mother of one of the Columbine shooters. After reading Dave Cullen’s book, I was interested in what she had to say.
I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Sue Klebold herself. It’s always an interesting experience when a writer narrates their own work. The nuances of their words and expressions obviously come through a lot better. It’s like having a conversation with someone.
Now with all that being said, Sue Klebold’s book is extremely heartbreaking. You feel her pain, confusion, and betrayal. It oozes out of her words. She was blindsided. Completely blindsided. And it’s something that she continues to grapple with. Trying to reconcile the image she had of her bright, loving son with the massacre he committed.
Depression and suicide are heavily covered in the book. As something that I struggle with, I found this to be insightful and relatable. You know, one of the first questions they asked me when I was in the hospital was “are you a danger to others?”. I answered truthfully: no, I was only a danger to myself. Her son was an undiagnosed suicidal depressant. I’m not saying it’s an excuse for what he did. It absolutely is not. But I do understand his pain. Because I’ve been there. And sometimes I’m still there.
Anyway. Back to the book. Sue Klebold loved her son. She did her best (as any good mother tries to do). She was blindsided. And now she’s trying to understand. It’s a heartbreaking, enlightening read.
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer
Krakauer states that he first thought of writing this book as a way to learn more about Mormons. Which is fair. The thing is, this book is less about Mormons and more about its extremists.
There’s a difference between Latter Day Saints and Fundamentalists. Something that is touched upon when going into the history of the Mormon faith. And this book focuses more on the Fundamentalists.
It’s a fairly interesting book. It has true crime aspects as it discusses murders committed by members of a Fundamentalist sect. The perpetrators claim it was divinely ordained. At its core, this book is about American religious extremism.
My Story by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart
Elizabeth Smart recounts her traumatic kidnapping and rape by a Mormon Fundamentalist.
Sigh. Look, her story is harrowing. But I have to be completely honest. This is one of the worst audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. And by this point I’ve listened to a lot. Yes, I feel really uncomfortable stating this.
Elizabeth Smart narrates the book herself. Within 10 minutes I knew this was going to be a difficult listen. But I stuck it out because I hoped it would get better. It didn’t. I’ve seen Elizabeth give interviews on TV over the years. She’s always calm and articulate. Not in this book. It actually didn’t sound like her. It was childish. I wonder how much of this book she actually wrote herself.
The narration aside, the writing was also terrible. “I was just a little girl“, “I was just a little girl“, “I was just a little girl“. The phrase was pounded into my head. Why the repetition? I already felt for her. And why that specific phrase? Because little girl is what I call my 3 year old goddaughter. Not a 14 year old teen. Semantics, ya’ll.
This is Elizabeth’s story. It’s disturbing and like I said, I feel for her. I really do. But this book was not great. There are a lot of other things that bothered me which I won’t go into. Because I already feel icky about kind of tearing this book apart. Do I recommend it? Nope. Watch her interviews instead.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
An in-depth look at McNamara’s investigation into the East Area Rapist.
While listening to the audiobook, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Michelle McNamara felt familiar. Then it clicked. She was a modern day Nancy Drew! She saw an investigation that had run cold years before and she set out to solve it. An amateur detective if there ever was one.
There was a lot of detail into how she went about searching for clues and following up on leads. How her every thought turned to the case. What avenues of thought needed to be pursued. She was obsessed with the mystery.
It’s unfortunate that Michelle didn’t live to see the capture of the alleged Golden State Killer. How DNA turned out to be the game-changer (just as she had perceived). An interesting read, for sure.
Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom
Molly was 26 years old when she became a poker princess. Not because she was a remarkable player, but because she was a good game organizer.
This book has been on my radar for a long time. I think I read an excerpt of it in a magazine? Anyway, that small excerpt made me see Tobey Maguire differently. This book solidified that.
Molly kind of fell into the poker world. She was new to LA and her boss basically ordered her to be a part of it. The rest is history. She knew she was walking a legal tightrope. The book actually ends with her legal troubles yet unresolved.
Hm. It was certainly an entertaining read. So many name drops. I haven’t watched the film adaptation but I imagine you get the juicier parts of the book. Probably easier to go that route.