Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Stuck in Neutral

Title: Stuck in Neutral
Author: Terry Trueman

Publication: October 2001

My Summary: 14-year-old Shawn McDonald has severe Cerebral Palsy and is unable to communicate with the world.  This book is told from Shawn's point of view and the reader is given the perspective of what it might be like to be able to hear and comprehend everything but never communicate anything.  Shawn's family is unaware of his abilities and he is unable to change this.  In the course of this book, Shawn becomes aware that his father is thinking about ending his life, which he sees as an act of mercy.

My thoughts: I wasn't sure if I would be able to read this one.  I hesitated picking it up because I thought it would be hard for me to read.  My step-brother, who recently passed away, was very severely handicapped from cerebral palsy as well.  Jeff, my step-brother, could communicate with us through yes and no questions, but we never could know exactly what was going on in his head.  I think if this book had not been written in such an upbeat voice I would not have been able to read it.  What struck me is the way that Shawn spoke in such a teenage voice but was matter-of-fact about his condition.  I wonder if people really feel that way.  What is obvious to me after knowing my step-brother and other people like him is that they definitely can think and feel like anyone.  The other thing that struck me is that Shawn talked about how is mother still talked to him as if he were a baby.  We did this with Jeff, not necessarily baby talk, but we did talk to him like he was younger.  I wonder if that bothered him.  The conflict in the book really disturbed me.  I understand that people feel that maybe living that way is not a great way to live, but I don't understand how people can presume to know whether someone is suffering or not.  I think the author did something great in really bringing up this debate.  Shawn certainly wasn't ready to have someone decide this for him.  I think this is an important book for teens to read and think about.  I think it is a brave book and it is one that I would recommend.

I am wavering between 3 and 4 stars for this book.  It is hard to figure out exactly what I think, and I am really unsure about the ending.

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