SCHUYLER’S MONSTER by Robert Rummel-Hudson


A Father’s Journey with His Wordless Daughter
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The author’s evolving maturity is part of the story of his little girl’s struggle to cope with a brain deformity found in only 100 or so patients worldwide.

After waxing autobiographical at some length, Rummel-Hudson presents his unique daughter, Schuyler. Not long after her birth, it became apparent that something was not right with the baby. She cried and laughed a lot, but she never made an effort to talk, except for a few disconnected, barked vowels. She could hear well enough, tests proved, but she missed many developmental milestones and was essentially mute. More than a third of the way into the book—apparently adapted from the author’s contemporaneous blogs—Dad and Mom got a singularly unhelpful diagnosis: Schuyler had “pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified.” Other experts were consulted, and, when she was three, her affliction was designated as “bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria,” which means she has a severely deformed, irreparable brain. The prognosis for this extremely rare condition, as far as doctors can tell, is dire. Seizures, lack of fine motor skills and retardation were all predicted for Schuyler, in addition to speechlessness. Her father chronicles interactions with friends, family, teachers, doctors and diverse experts as the search for help continued. Eventually, he discovered the existence of a device called an electronic speech synthesizer; to purchase this costly prosthesis, Dad asked for and received funding from Internet donors. Now Schuyler, nearly eight, uses her talking box proficiently.

Relating the battle for his exceptional daughter with nimble wit, ardor and considerable descriptive ability, Rummel-Hudson has evolved from blogger to author.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-312-37242-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2007