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Schuyler's Monster: A Father's Journey with His Wordless Daughter Paperback – January 6, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The monster in this heartfelt memoir is polymicrogyria, an extremely rare brain malformation that, in the case of Rummel-Hudson's daughter Schuyler, has completely impaired her ability to speak. During her first three years, as her parents seek to find out what hidden monster is causing her wordlessness, they endure two years of questions and tests and at least one unsatisfactory diagnosis. But while Rummel-Hudson initially rages at God for giving Schuyler a life that would never ever be what we'd imagined it to be, his depiction of her next four years becomes a study not only in Schuyler's vivacious and resilient personality, but also in the redeeming power of understanding and a stupid blind father's love. As he describes how Schuyler eagerly takes to various forms of communication, such as basic sign language and an alternative and augmentative communication device that provides whole words she can type to express her thoughts, Rummel-Hudson effectively and compassionately shows how the gentle strangeness about her, like a visitor from some realm where no one spoke but everyone laughed, leads him to understand that she was the one teaching me how to make my way in this new world. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A gripping explication, shot through with equal parts horror and hope, of how parenthood can turn ordinary people into passionate advocates.” ―Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad

“Robert Rummel-Hudson is brave enough to reveal the damage the discovery of his child's condition did to his marriage and to his own sense of self. He manages to repair some of the damage through close involvement with Schuyler and vigorous campaigning on her behalf. His memoir is honest, often painful and deeply personal.” ―Charlotte Moore, author of George & Sam

“The book is engaging and honest - I'm sure it will help many parents who are struggling to find the most loving way to help their children who have 'issues'.” ―Dana Buchman, designer, author of A Special Education: One Family's Journey Through the Maze of Learning Disabilities

“Rummel-Hudson's memoir offers a moving account of his and wife Julie's unrelenting efforts to give their buoyant little girl a way to communicate.” ―People magazine

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

“…A study not only in Schuyler's vivacious and resilient personality, but also in the redeeming power of understanding…” ―Publishers Weekly

“This memoir, full of fear and rage and disappointment and acceptance and advocacy and ferocious love, offers plenty of touchstones for parents who have dealt with diagnoses that are infuriatingly wrong or frighteningly right….” ―Terri Mauro, author of The Everything Parent's Guide to Sensory Integration Disorder

“Rummel-Hudson chronicles, with disarming frankness, the experience of parenting a child no one knows how to help.” ―Brain, Child

“…This story will both compel and inspire readers on their own self-journey.” ―Texas Family magazine

“We all play the hand that we are dealt in life. Knowing that there are many people like Robert, Julie and Schuyler who play their difficult hand with grit, tenacity and love makes this world a much better place in which to live.” ―The Citizen, Auburn, New York


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312538804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312538804
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Rummel-Hudson spent his early years in Texas. He grew up in the West Texas oil town of Odessa, and attended college at the University of Texas at Arlington, studying music and English. During that time, he worked as a professional freelance trombonist and music instructor.

At the age of twenty-nine, he left it all behind and moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan to marry Julie Rummel. A year later, they had a daughter, Schuyler Noelle, and moved to New Haven, Connecticut to work for Yale University.

It was at Yale that Schuyler was diagnosed with Bilateral Perisylvian Polymicrogyria, a rare neurological condition that left her unable to speak. For the next few years, Robert used his online journal and blog to chronicle Schuyler's fight for a normal life, and also his transformation to become, against all his flaws and self-doubts, a good father and fierce advocate for a unique little girl.

Robert Rummel-Hudson now lives with Julie and Schuyler in the north Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas, where Schuyler attends a special class for children who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication devices. She also attends regular fourth grade classes for a good part of her day, and is working towards transitioning to a mainstream education in the coming years.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Kramer Bussel VINE VOICE on February 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In Schuyler's Monster, Robert Rummel-Hudson tells a story of coming to terms with, while constantly battling, what he calls his daughter's "monster," a disease called polymicrogyria which leaves her unable to talk. She can make some sounds, using mostly vowels, and it's not until age 4 that the author and his wife even find out precisely what is wrong with her. In this incredibly heartfelt memoir, Rummel-Hudson recounts their journey from parents to "special needs" parents, navigating school systems in Connecticut and Texas in their quest to get Schuyler the best care and help she can provide.

At times, their story is bleak, but throughout it, Rummel-Hudson's overwhelming love for his daughter, as well as his belief in her, is clear. Even when things seem at their worst, the couple never let their daughter sense their doubts about her being "broken," as Rummel-Hudson writes. Even though he uses this terminology for her and her brain, on a certain level, he seems to know that for whatever mysterious reasons (his battles with faith and a god he doesn't quite believe in are covered in the book), Schuyler has turned out the way she has.

Some of the best moments are focused solely on Schuyler. She is a "rock star" amongst her young classmates, in various schools, looking the part with purple or red hair and pink leopard print, and drawing her peers around her. When she stands up to (and punches) a bully at a mall playground who's just shoved her and teased her for being a "retard," it's hard for even those of us who are as nonviolent as they come to cheer.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By lit-in-the-last-frontier on March 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Schuyler's Monster is not some phantom conjured by a child and reported to live in her closet. Her Monster is real, a genetic abhoration, residing in the very structure of her brain tissue, invisible to all save the MRI machine. The monster is invisible; Schuyler is silent.

I was very excited to read this book, as I too have a wordless daughter. In the beginning I was disappointed because it felt like it was Robert's autobiography and not Schuyler's story, and to some extent that feeling carried through for the first half of the book. As I pondered the book after finishing it a couple of thoughts combined to bring this book up from a three star rating to a five. First, I thought a lot about my impatience with the author telling his story. As the parent of a severely handicapped child, I wasn't interested in the father's frustrations and emotional roller coaster. If I am completely honest, I felt just a bit of exasperation with him for not focusing on all the things that his daughter could do. As opposed to, say, my daughter.

However, as I mulled things over, several things became clear to me. The average reader does not have a daughter like his Schuyler or my Winter, and would, therefore, have no idea that a train wreck in slow motion is a pretty good metaphor for how your life, as the parent, can feel as you try to keep your child on the track. And the more I read about Robert the more I realized how eloquently he managed to express, without ever losing his sense of humor or poignancy, how one survives this kind of a life altering challenge. I identified so completely with his struggle, and that proves what a beautiful job he did in conveying the reality of our lives to someone who doesn't live it every day.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a long time blog reader of Rob's, I had been looking forward to the book since it was announced. I was not disappointed. The magic of Rob's blog and his book is that he isn't afraid to be human. He opens a window into his and Schuyler's life. You share in the moments of despair and the moments of triumph. I am a voracious reader and biography/non-fiction is my favorite genre - this is one of the most excellent books I've read in years. The very best part? If you read his blog, you get to read along and find out what happens after the book ends.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amylia Grace on September 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Schuyler's Monster is, in the author's own words, a love-letter to his daughter. If that's true, then this is one spectacular letter! Written with and about the understated beauty of words (and moving beyond them), it is also a testament to the unconditional love that comes when one surrenders their illusions and faces the sobering truth that our life and those in it are far from perfect and sometimes, in fact, even broken. Still, we going on loving them. Even more so. While labeled under "parenting" and medical conditions, such labels sell the book short. This memoir goes beyond diagnosis and recovery by not skipping over the murky terrain surrounding it. We laugh and cry along with Rob and his family, and are entertained and touched in ways both surprising and lasting. As a writer, Rummel-Hudson first won me over with his punchy sentences and verbal acuity, rendering powerful language both beautiful and biting. (It's ironic how a man so blessed with a gift for words ends up being saved by his little girl who doesn't, at first, have any.) What Schulyer loses in words, however, she makes up for in spirit and courage. Her infectious squeals and laughs can be heard throughout the book and it's all you can do not to hug whomever or whatever is next to you just to have an outlet for the joy she brings into your life even as a mere spectator.

Still, though the "cast of characters" is engaging and fun(ny), what impressed me about the book was not only how well written it was and how easily one could be brought to care and relate to the struggles against such an obscure brain disorder, but the candor with which Hudson offers us his story. What we get is an almost unflinching glimpse into an imperfect life filled with Rummel-Hudson's signature tender-hearted tenacity of spirit.
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