Monday, May 11, 2015

Amy's Review Round-Up

Shot in the Head: A Sister’s Memoir, a Brother’s Struggle
by Katherine Flannery Dering
Bridgeross Communications; March 24, 2014
226 Pages ISBN: 978-1927637210

Book Description
A bittersweet memoir about life and loss. This true story brings to life the experiences of one large family before and after the onset of mental illness. Using a mix of narrative, photographs, emails and pictures of various cherished objects, the book takes the reader into author Katherine Flannery Dering's world of caring for her younger brother Paul, who suffered from schizophrenia.

When her brother developed lung cancer, the author had to step up to help in his care. Maneuvering through the maze of our mental health system, she (and her eight siblings) got to know social workers and     the employees of 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 as well.

Author Bio
Katherine Flannery Dering, author of Shot in the Head: A Sister’s Memoir, A Brother’s Struggle (Bridgeross Communications; 2014) is the second of ten children. Her younger brother, Paul, was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 16. Busy with her own family and career, she helped with his care only intermittently for many years, but took on a more intense role after her parents death and especially after he developed physical ailments, as well as the psychological ones.  She found herself very moved by the experience and writes about caring for her brother in hopes that it will enlighten the public on the role of caregivers. 
Katherine holds an MFA from Manhattanville College, a BA from Le Moyne College, an MA from the University of Buffalo and a MBA from the University of Minnesota at Duluth. 
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. Dering taught Spanish briefly and is a former CFO at a community bank in New York. She currently serves on the board of directors of a startup bank and actively volunteers with the League of Women Voters and the Northern Westchester Community Center. 
For more information please visit and find Katherine on Facebook and Twitter.

Amy's Review: 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 because as a  reader I learned so much about the difficulties families face with loved ones with mental illness.

A Moving Family Story that Restores the Power of Hope

They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. They’re wrong.
Colom had the perfect childhood, the much-loved only child of a church pastor. Yet he wakes screaming from dreams in which his sister is drowning and he can’t save her.

Fiona turns to her husband, desperate to help their son. But David will not acknowledge that help is needed—and certainly not help from beyond the church.

Then they find the suicide pledge.

Fiona, in panic, takes Colom and flees . . . but when will she acknowledge that the unnamed demons Colom faces .might be of her and David’s own creation?
This beautifully written and searching novel by poet Gerard Kelly explores the toxicity of secrets, the nature of healing, and the ever-present power of rain.

“A compelling debut novel . . . combines elegance and passion.”
—Derek Wilson

About the Author
Gerard Kelly is a well-known speaker and author of fourteen books. He and his wife live and work in France and cofounded the Blessed Network, a movement of young leaders committed to God’s mission on mainland Europe.

Amy's Review:
Colom is a teenage boy who shows signs of depression, gets into trouble and is accused on bullying.  His mother is at her wits end and his father, who is a pastor, is totally disengaged.  Colom’s friend Daniel commits suicide and during the police investigation it is found that Daniel and Colom were visiting websites that encouraged suicide.  There are many secrets that are destroying Colom and his family. 

This story has a large plot with huge potential but it fell flat.  I was a bit confused with the italicized sections at the end of each chapter, but come to find out they are the voice of a character that you meet at the end of the story. 

I give this a 3 star as it kept me engaged, was a page turner, but it just fell a bit flat.


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