Keeping Katherine

A Mother's Journey to Acceptance

Publisher: Harmony
Katherine was a beautiful, perfect baby for the first year of her life. Then, without warning, she changed forever. She started crossing her eyes. She cried at night for hours at a time and could not be soothed. She stopped saying words, stopped crawling, and began what would become a lifelong habit of wringing her hands. Hospital visits and consultations with doctors offered no answers to the mystery. Soon Katherine slipped away to a place her mother and father could never reach.

In Keeping Katherine, Susan Zimmermann tells the story of her life with her daughter Katherine, who has Rett syndrome, a devastating neurological disorder. Writing with honesty and candor, Zimmermann chronicles her personal journey to accept the changed dynamic of her family; the strain of caring for a special needs child and the pressure it placed on her marriage, career, and relationship with her parents; the dilemma of whether Kat would be better cared for in a group home; and most important, the altered reality of her daughter’s future. A story of personal transformation that reminds us that it isn’t what happens to us that shapes our humanity, but how we react, Keeping Katherine shows the unconditional love that exists in families and the gifts the profoundly disabled can offer to those who try to understand them.


Chapter 1

Our stories shape us. They give us our songs and our silence. When they are full of joy, they allow us to soar. When they are full of pain, they allow us to journey into the darkness of our souls where we meet ourselves, sometimes for the first time. They destroy us and allow us to rebuild. We...
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“Susan Zimmermann’s deeply moving book will touch all people, not only parents. Her courage, her joy, and her hope reach through her tragedy and offer us all a way of life that is creative, no matter what the circumstances.” —Madeleine L’Engle, Newbery Award–winning author

“Susan Zimmermann portrays, with honesty, passion, and wisdom, a chapter of her life that is both deeply terrifying and wholly inspiring. It is a story of loss and gain, pain and joy, and—above all—profound truth. It is a story with the power to change your life.” —T. A. Barron, author of Heartlight, The Ancient One, and The Lost Years of Merlin series

“Susan’s story—and Kat’s—is a profound gift. Susan reminds us that it isn’t what happens to us that determines our life, but how we respond to it.” —Marilyn Van Derbur, author of Miss America By Day