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Book Reviews

Martha Stevens-David Review: "Shot in the Head" by Katherine Dering
By Martha Stevens-David
Jul 14, 2015 - 8:07:02 AM

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"Shot in the Head: A sister's memoir, a Brother's struggle" by Katherine Flannery Dering is such a difficult story to read because it takes the reader through what begins with a happy, upper middle class American family and illustrates what happens to the close knit family when one of the children develops an incurable disease.

Paul, one of the boys in this Irish clan is diagnosed with Schizophrenia at age sixteen and the telling carries one through the devastation that his large family had to endure for the his sake and well-being.

Upon his mother's death, the victim's siblings are his main caretakers as his illness becomes more and more debilitating.

As per the publicity material:

  • In the majority of cases, this mental illness can be treated reasonably successfully and, with support, the individual can live in the community and enjoy a reasonable quality of life. Paul, unfortunately, was one of the 25% for whom no medication worked properly.

This work is very well-done and extremely educational because nearly every family can relate when a family member is stricken with an incurable illness. I was struck by the way the author told of her family's love for one another and I could feel their suffering and sorrow when they finally had to let Paul go.

The author, by choosing to write this story, will help others who may be dealing with this or another medical issue, to understand how very terrible and sad these diseases really are. Very well done.

Would I recommend this story to others? YES!!!

Martha Stevens-David

Katherine Flannery Dering holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Inkwell Magazine, as well as The Bedford Record Review, Northwords Press, Sensations Magazine, Pandaloon Press, Poetry Motel and Pink Elephant Magazine. A narrative non-fiction piece, which later became a chapter of Shot in the Head, was included in Stories from the Couch, an anthology of essays about coping with mental illness. For more information, please visit

  • Video of the author discussing her book with jounalist Adina Seward in a diner in Westchester, NY.

"Shot in the Head A Sister's Memoir, A Brother's Struggle"
by Katherine Flannery Dering
ISBN 978-1927637210
226 pages
$15 paperback
$9 kindle

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