Three days after he was born, Howard Shulman contracted an infection that attacked his face, devouring his nose, lips, lower right eyelid, tear ducts, and upper palate. His parents abandoned him at the hospital, and he became a ward of New Jersey under the care of a state-employed experimental surgeon. As a child, he underwent innumerable skin and bone grafts and reconstructive surgeries that left him in constant pain and a bullied outcast.
Shulman relates his tortured childhood and ultimately successful adulthood in a haunting memoir, Running from the Mirror, published by Sandra Jonas Publishing House. In the book, Shulman tells of how a chance event led him to meet his birth mother, and how he was finally able to make peace with his parents and create a meaningful, rich life for himself.
The book was released on October 5 to coincide with Child Health Day and Global Bullying Prevention Day.
Shulman is donating five percent of each book sold to Hillsides. He said he is giving back to Hillsides due to his own experiences in the foster care system and Hillsides efforts to help children find stability and a safe, loving environment. “I know how hard it is,” he said.
He especially remembers the shock and pain of emancipating from the foster care system. “When I turned 18, they gave you a birth certificate, shook your hand, and said good luck,” he said. One of Hillsides core programs, Youth Moving On, seeks to remedy the challenges facing emancipated youth by offering them affordable transitional and permanent housing and other services.
It took Shulman seven years to write the memoir, which he wrote longhand, filling 15 notepads. He said writing the book was cathartic.
Running from the Mirror retails for $14.95 softcover or $7.99 as an ebook and is available through either Amazon or the publisher. The book was recently profiled in the Daily Mail.
Hillsides, headquartered in Pasadena, is a nonprofit organization serving children in foster care and families in crisis. Founded in 1913, the agency serves more than 6,000 children and families throughout Los Angeles County, including Pomona, Baldwin Park, and Echo Park. For more information on Hillsides, please visit www.hillsides.org.