The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed - Judy Shepard
"You knew him as Matthew. To us he was Matt. I have tried to reconcile the two within these pages. It would be unfair to Matt if only Matthew's story was told. Matt was so much more than 'Matthew the gay twenty-one-year-old University of Wyoming college student.' He had a family and countless friends. He had a life before that night he was tied to that fence."

I really, really, really wanted to like this book. I think I actually squeaked when I found it, and signed, for only $5. I wanted to like it so badly that I gave it an extra star. Truthfully, this was probably only a one-star book. I gave it the extra star because, though I was too young to remember the incident, 1998? I would have been in fifth grade or thereabout. However, I went to college in 2005 - less than ten years later - and I went to a primarily music/theater school. What did that mean? Lots of gay guys. My best friends and I used to joke that the campus was 75% female, and of the 20% that were male more than 50% were gay. Anyway. Point being, I know Matthew's story inside and out, I've been to events, seen the movies, heard talks given by people who knew him, etc. etc. Therefore, the story always meant a lot to me. Both of my younger sisters have come out of the closet and I'm active in the LGBTA communities. I wanted to like this book, so fucking badly.

Unfortunately, what was striking throughout this book is that Judy never expected to write a book. I guess I can't blame her, it's not like she had a hell of a lot of a choice in the events that took place. However, it was simply a poorly written book. There was very little new information, and frankly it just seemed like Judy really knew very little about what was really going on in her son's head. I mean, true, who really knows what's going on in any 21 year old's mind?

Sadly, the best written chapters were the ones about when Matt was in the hospital, when Judy and family were playing the waiting game to see if he would recover, even after being told he wouldn't. I'm sure those are moments that have run through Judy's mind over and over and over and over and over again. It was nice to read that Matthew was surrounded by people who loved him and less media circus than I would have expected. The emotion in these chapters just seemed so much more real than in the other chapters.

Judy writes over and over again that she has learned to control her emotions and that even when everything was still fresh that she hated people seeing her as the grieving mother. She places great value on emotional control, but I don't. It made it very hard to connect with her and her story. I wanted to hear more about what she was actually feeling rather than how she was having trouble controlling it. Her baby was beaten to death, I don't think I would be able to control emotions in that sort of situation and I had a hard time understanding even why she would want to. Granted, I've never been through anything of this sort, but I'd think that trying to contain that many emotions would eventually become more painful than letting them out.