Shawn McDaniel's life is not what it may seem to anyone looking at him. He is glued to his wheelchair, unable to voluntarily move a muscle—he can't even move his eyes. For all Shawn's father knows, his son may be suffering. Shawn may want a release. And as long as he is unable to communicate his true feelings to his father, Shawn's life is in danger.
To the world, Shawn's senses seem dead. Within these pages, however, we meet a side of him that no one else has seen—a spirit that is rich beyond imagining, breathing life.
This edition features an Extras section, giving readers even more insight into Shawn's life, and includes a Q&A with Terry Trueman, as well as a sneak peek at the sequel to Stuck in Neutral, Life Happens Next.
Fourteen-year-old Shawn McDaniel loves the taste of smoked oysters and his mother's gentle hugs. Unfortunately, it's impossible for Shawn to feed himself or to hug his mom back. Shawn has cerebral palsy, a condition he has had since birth that has robbed him of all muscle control. He can't walk, talk, or even focus his eyes on his own. But despite all these handicaps, despite the frustration of not being able to communicate, Shawn is still happy to be alive: "Somehow all the things I think about and remember turn to joy... favorite movies... pinecones... chocolate pudding... the scent of Comet in a stainless steel sink.... Life can be great, even for me. Even for me." That is why he panics when he begins to suspect that his father is thinking of killing him. Shawn knows that his father is trying to be kind; he imagines that his son's life is an endless torment. His dad has no idea of the rich life that Shawn lives inside his head. And Shawn, helpless and mute, has no way of telling him.
Stuck in Neutral is a truly unique journey into the mind of a truly unique character. Shawn McDaniel, who is literally trapped in his own body, will serve as a powerful metaphor for teens who feel cornered by circumstances or their own physical shortcomings. Terry Trueman's first-person portrayal of Shawn is made all the more poignant by the fact that Trueman's own son, Henry, also suffers from cerebral palsy. This is an original and moving debut. (Ages 11 to 15) --Jennifer Hubert
Lindsea (Canada) (2007/05/11):
This book is really, really good!!!!!!!!!!
Stephen (USA: MD) (2013/01/02):
In a phenomenally personal story Terry Trueman takes us into the mind of a profoundly, developmentally disabled cerebral palsy sufferer who's also a quirky, insightful, vibrantly alive 14 year old. However this kid is pretty much input only. Who can tell what goes on in the mind of a child who cannot even control his own eye blinks?
While the protagonist in this story is unable to communicate with anyone in his world , this book gives us an inner monologue that shows us a unique individual who's glad to be alive and who is relishing each and every new life experience with the wonder of a child (and sometimes that of a horny kid). This kid's inner monologue connects with the reader on a level that books seldom do. Written by the father of just such a boy, this book may even afflict the reader a bit too, only the body parts that the sympathetic reader will be unable to control are the tear ducts. And yet for the most part this is NOT a sad, maudlin, tear-jerker of a book.
One really needs to read this oneself to experience the full effect but even the visceral dread that one experiences as the kid describes his fear that his father may end his life in order to spare him continued suffering is only accentuated by the feel of having so few pages remaining unread in the book.
I've rated Terry Trueman's other book Inside Out as being an unsung work of genius, this, his first book, is perhaps even better. If you ever wanted to really fulfill that old adage about understanding someone by walking a mile in his moccasins, pick up one of these books.