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Publisher's Summary

The mother of Matthew Shepard shares her story about her son's death and the choice she made to become an international gay rights activist.

Today, the name Matthew Shepard is synonymous with gay rights, but before his grisly murder in 1998, Matthew was simply Judy Shepard's son. For the first time in book form, Judy Shepard speaks about her loss, sharing memories of Matthew, their life as a typical American family, and the pivotal event in the small college town that changed everything.

The Meaning of Matthew follows the Shepard family in the days immediately after the crime, when Judy and her husband traveled to see their incapacitated son, kept alive by life support machines; how the Shepards learned of the incredible response from strangers all across America who held candlelit vigils and memorial services for their child; and finally, how they struggled to navigate the legal system as Matthew's murderers were on trial. Heart-wrenchingly honest, Judy Shepard confides with readers about how she handled the crippling loss of her child, why she became a gay rights activist, and the challenges and rewards of raising a gay child in America today.

The Meaning of Matthew not only captures the historical significance and complicated civil rights issues surrounding one young man's life and death, but it also chronicles one ordinary woman's struggle to cope with the unthinkable.

©2009 Judy Shepard; (P)2009 Penguin

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • sherry
  • Los Banos, CA, United States
  • 08-10-12

Heart breaking story

Would you listen to The Meaning of Matthew again? Why?

I would listen to this book again and again. I found this story very sad, but the only way to change past mistakes is to find where we went wrong.

What other book might you compare The Meaning of Matthew to and why?

sadly to many.

What three words best describe Judy Shepard’s voice?

dry

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

there is a movie about this story already. After reading the book its not the same as the movie. The movies are hardly ever same as the book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I cried

I started it on my bus rides to a semester final then finished it in the library after. Cried on the bus. Judy truly did a great job giving me information and emotion that paired with it.

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Empowering

This is not so much a review of the book and story of Mathew. As I feel to review this as a "Typical" book does not do justice for the purpose and reason behind the publication of Mathews' story. But to hope that whom ever takes the time to read or listen to this account may walk away with a little more Exceptance, Compassion and Understanding. First and foremost to help Erase Hate. Thank you Shepard family for sharing your life and son Mathew with the world. Thank You Matthew for being just who you were. Not by your choices but by a greater power those things are put in place to make this a more tolerant place to live. Thank You!

  • Overall
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  • Story

Sad read...

Would you consider the audio edition of The Meaning of Matthew to be better than the print version?

Yes.

Which scene was your favorite?

None

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Matthew's death

Any additional comments?

I remember the day Matthew was murdered and was devastated that someone could be murdered just because of hate.

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I love this book...

Such a beautiful yet heart-rending story and one that I can never forget. His life was so important to all of us.

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  • Cody
  • THOMASTON, GA, United States
  • 05-16-16

Wonderfully written & narrated moving story

This is a heartfelt story of a mother turning a personal tragedy into a triumph for human rights. You will never forget this book and, like myself, you'll likely listen multiple times.

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