In the fall of 2019, John Hendrickson wrote a groundbreaking story for The Atlantic about Joe Biden’s decades-long journey with stuttering, as well as his own. The article went viral, reaching readers around the world and altering the course of Hendrickson’s life. Overnight, he was forced to publicly confront an element of himself that still caused him pain. He soon learned he wasn’t alone: strangers who stutter began sending him their own personal stories, something that continues to this day. Now, in this reported memoir, Hendrickson takes us deep inside the mind and heart of a stutterer as he sets out to answer lingering questions about himself and his condition that he was often too afraid to ask. In Life on Delay: Making Peace with a Stutter, Hendrickson writes candidly about issues that he and other stutterers face daily. He explores the intricate family dynamics surrounding his own stutter and revisits key people from his past in unguarded interviews. Readers get an over-the-shoulder view of his childhood; his career as a journalist, which once seemed impossible; and his search for a romantic partner. Along the way, Hendrickson guides us through the evolution of speech therapy, the controversial quest for a "magic pill" to end stuttering, and the burgeoning self-help movement within the stuttering community. Beyond his own experiences, he shares portraits of fellow stutterers who have changed his life, and he writes about a pioneering doctor who is upending the field of speech therapy. Life on Delay is an indelible account of perseverance, a soulful narrative about not giving up, and a glimpse into the process of making peace with our past and present selves.
The event is sponsored by the Department of English, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Intercollege Minor in Civic and Community Engagement, and Penn State University Libraries.