Can You See Me?



What happens when the person you love most, best, falls prey to schizophrenia? Can You See Me? is the story of Doren and Sarah Solomon, a brother and sister so close they share a secret place, imaginary world, and private language during childhood. While Sarah eventually grows up and relinquishes their private haven, for Doren, it becomes a way of life he never surrenders. Sarah struggles to help Doren, even to save him, without truly understanding the consequences. Told in the alternating voices of both Sarah and Doren, Can You See Me? is a powerful psychodrama portraying schizophrenia from the inside-out.


Some years ago, while I was in college, a disheveled, confused man lurched into my face and whispered, “Can you see me?” I jumped, as if I’d received an electric shock. Later, I was surprised by my own reaction. I knew the man had schizophrenia. I was familiar with the illness because a beloved member of my own family has schizophrenia and I grew up with all of us in the family struggling to cope with this devastating illness.

Madness is frightening, mysterious. Madness remains a skeleton in the family closet, stigma only adding to pain. Yet one person in every four families suffers from some form of mental illness, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. Schizophrenia—the most severe type of mental illness—affects one person out of one hundred, about as common as diabetes.

Often a novel or story begins with a question that does not have a yes or no answer. The question that catalyzed my novel, Can You See Me?  was, What is it like to be Doren? What is it like to have schizophrenia?

I wrote Can You See Me?  to tell a dramatic and moving story. Yet I also hope my novel brings schizophrenia out of the closet into the light. With knowledge comes empathy, for people afflicted with schizophrenia and their families.

The novel took me five years to write and ventures inside the mind and heart of the character with schizophrenia, Doren Solomon. It was a risky and frightening place to go; at times I feared I would never find my way back, but I am home again, stronger for the journey.