Reviews forShot in the Head

"Both universal and personal, Katherine Dering's Shot in the Head is the story of a family just barely holding on. Dering unspools her story with urgent compassion and grace." --Elizabeth Eslami, author of Bone Worship and Hibernate and the 2013 winner of the OhioState University Prize in Short Fiction. 

When mental illness happens, it affects the whole family.  Much has been written about the effect on parents, but not enough about the grief - and importance - of siblings. You will fall in love with the Flannery clan, who stepped up to support their brother Paul throughout his sad journey with schizophrenia. This book takes you through the frustration, the loss, the mistakes and wishful thinking - and, ultimately the love and support that shines through it all -  as the family struggles to understand the illness and the system, stay together, and also show Paul how much he is loved. This is a readable and important book that will open the reader's eyes to the effects of schizophrenia, the need for change, and the power of family love." --Randye Kaye, author, Ben Behind His Voices: One Family's Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope

"So powerful and emotional" --Ann Cloonan, Director, Bedford Free Library, Bedford, NY

"During the past half century our treatment system for persons with serious mental illness has become a fragmented disaster. Katherine Dering's book is about her middle class family's odyssey during this time as it tries to ensure that her brother with schizophrenia receives adequate services. The book is an extremely well crafted, compelling drama about how a large group of caring siblings interact and cope as their brother becomes severely ill, is repeatedly hospitalized, and endures various attempts to "transition" him into the community. This eye-opening account of the realities of having a seriously mentally ill family member should be at the top of the "must read" list for anyone involved with, or otherwise interested in, improving mental health services for those who are most in need.  --    Fred Frese, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Psychiatry Northeast Ohio Medical University Coordinator, Recovery Project

​​A Sampling of reviews on Amazon:

I give this book 5 stars. May 5, 2015
It has been a long time since I have finished a book in one sitting. The author did a phenomenal job of telling a very difficult story and how herself and her siblings took care of her mentally ill brother. The photos and emails that were shared brought this story to life. Her attention to detail about the struggles she dealt with her brother as well as her parents were a real eye opener. I give this book 5 stars.

Start reading. laugh. cry. laugh. cry. repeat until the end.September 18, 2014
This is one of those books that when you finish, you don't want to read anything for a few days. The story just sticks there and keeps your emotions going.

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that destroys the life of the sick person. Each family member must find their own way to deal with the heartbreak of seeing someone they love go from happy and loving, to a dark world of delusions. It leaves their families struggling to make sense of the insane mental health system, and the continuous attempt to normalize the life of someone living inside a delusion.

Dering's style of writing keeps the story moving, while providing many contrasts and insights about schizophrenia and the human emotions that are challenged in adult siblings of the ill person. Her story masterfully presented the inevitable chasms this illness causes in a family, without judging anyone. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has a family member or friend who struggles with mental illness. You'll know you're not alone, and your experience isn't unique. For anyone else, it's a well-crafted story that won't disappoint.

Memorable and Honest Memoir June 23, 2014
Dering gives an open and honest account of how living with a sibling with schizophrenia affects a family. Her raw emotion can be seen most beautifully by excerpts from her poetry that are inserted throughout the novel. Five stars!!

Couldn't put this down! June 19, 2014
This was a very sad, but riveting story. It begs the question of how we, as a society, can help those who cannot function independently in the real world. Currently know someone in the same situation with their son, and it is heartbreaking. The love, devotion, and compassion in this story is amazing. A true reminder of how family really counts. Thank you for a personal story that is also socially relevant.

Author Katherine Flannery Dering was the second of ten children, her brother Paul eighth.  He was 16 when he suffered his first psychotic episode. When Paul also developed lung cancer the author had to overcome her reluctance to deal with the troubled man and step up to help in his care.  While maneuvering through the maze of our mental health system, she and her eight siblings got to know social workers and the employees of adult and nursing homes on a first name basis, saw friends and family less often, missed work, and ate fewer meals at home and more fast food.  Along the way, she changed in unforeseen ways, and her perception of her ill brother, Paul, changed at well.    

Katherine has an MFA from Manhattanville College. Previously a chief financial officer at a community bank in New York, she holds a BA from Le Moyne College, an MBA from the University of Minnesota at Duluth, and an MA in Spanish Lit. from the University of Buffalo. 

 Author: Katherine Flannery Dering