My Blog

My Blog



September 18, 2013

FREAK:Memoir Of An Outcast by Howard Shulman




Abandoned at birth because of an infection that ravaged his face, Shulman begins a life of surgeries. Meeting his birth ... portrait of the indomitable human spirit. 

Howard Shulman

Freak: Memoir of an Outcast

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First Edition edition (July 18, 2013)

(from Amazon)

FREAK: Memoir of an Outcast is the author’s improbable but true story. When only days old, an infection attacks the author’s face, destroying his nose, lower lip, eyelid, and upper palate. Abandoned at the hospital by his parents and made a ward of the state of New Jersey, he is placed under the care of a state-employed surgeon who experimentally re-builds his face. Beginning what would become decades of reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts, Howard Shulman embarks on an unforgettable journey to find his place in the world. With street smarts and humor, bullied and outcast, he defies all odds by rising from dishwasher to successful entrepreneur. An unexpected twist of fate leads him to his birth mother — a chance event that drives home the lesson of what it will cost him if he doesn’t make peace with the past. By turns heart wrenching and funny, Howard’s story is a testament to the human spirit. FREAK will resonate with readers long after the final page.

The book FREAK: Memoir of an Outcast is a true story about the author's own life.  We all have used the word freak to describe someone that was different from us.  Mr. Shulman didn't consider himself a freak.  Sadly he heard it over and over in his childhood years.  That name hurt him deeply.  I can't imagine having to live like that when you're just a child.  You did nothing wrong.  God has his reasons for what happens.  Although we may not understand them. Cruelty, an insult that didn't let him forget how he looked.  It's sad how society bases a lot on how a persona looks, how much money they have and their status in the world.  That makes them no better than anyone else.  Right off the first couple of pages, I felt the author had a great deal of courage and strength.  It couldn't have been easy, not in any way, shape or form., I imagine the cruel words, names and actions of others stayed with him through the years even if in the back parts of the elusive mind. After some reconstruction of his face, there were still deformities.  But what is the difference between the author and the way people dress, do their hair, makeup, act and live?  Aren't they freaks? Aren't we all freaks? Normal is whatever we want to perceive it as being. So is being abnormal. It's in the eyes of the beholder. People sometimes are scared of what they don't understand or know about.  But that doesn't give anyone the right to be cruel and judgemental.  Everyone is different, just in so many ways.  No one is absolutely alike.  Why  can't our society just accept and not judge?  I believe that a lot of us have demons that haunt us  and have hurts that we have pushed to the back of our minds. Haven't we all faced rejection and loss.   We try to hide as much of it as we can.  We are scared to let anyone know the truth.  In the author's case, the physical part could not be hidden. the author speaks of ultimate loss,  HOPE.  Without it can we live?

"It doesn’t matter what other people think.  What YOU believe of yourself is the ONLY thing that matters."
(from the author)

Everyone needs to read this book and do some hard, tough thinking.  How many times have you thought or called someone a Freak?  Is that the kind of person you really want to be?  The author, Mr. Shulman is a strong, independent, understanding man with a lot of courage who has found his place in society. Read this book.  You will feel emotions you may not have felt in a long time.  It's a wonderful book, even though I shed a few tears.  Please don't be afraid of someone who is different than you.  Pick up a copy and read about all of us, because we're all freaks, one way or another.

I would give this book 5 Stars.

I was given a complimentary copy of FREAK from the author, Howard Shulman for this unbiased and honest review.

Thank you, Mr. Shulman for sharing your story.  It was very good.  Keep writing.

Years have passed, but I will never forget the painful ostracism and loneliness that dogged me throughout my childhood. Because of my facial deformities, my ‘otherness’, and the accompanying stares, contempt, and even the horror I engendered, I understand first hand the challenges faced by those whom society deems unacceptably flawed. As my empathy grew, I found I wanted to ease the pain of others who yearned for acceptance. I volunteered, first with blind students I took on field-trips in my work with Lighthouse International in New York, and then at the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital, I read to children with brain injuries and cancer. For an immigrant family, who were like family to me, I provided a stable home because I could, and later, I spent time with injured veterans who struggled with a new reality. It was the least I could do to make someone’s life brighter, my attempt to pass on what others had done for me. In the process I discovered that helping others was the path to healing myself.
With the help of many hard-won lessons, I eventually made peace with my circumstances and was able to create a life that was not defined by my physical uniqueness. Partially because of my tenacious nature, but also because I’d had the good fortune to meet many who had risen above adversity, I knew I could find a way as well. The self-empowerment and the seed of hope that is germinated when one meets another like himself, especially someone who is proof that a full and rewarding life can be lived, is immense. When I stumbled on Lucy Greely’s Autobiography of a Face, I knew at last I had found someone who understood what I experienced. Unequivocally, I know how a life can change when one discovers they are not alone.
My coming to terms with my past and finding self-acceptance is something I know anyone can relate to. After all, triumphing over adversity and arriving at self-acceptance is what we all hope for.
Born in 1961 in Orange, New Jersey, Howard Shulman’s fateful beginnings would launch him on a lifelong quest to rise above the hand he was dealt. Recently married, he lives in San Diego with his wife and two stepdaughters.


No comments: