Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

from amazon: 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.

My book choice for Throwback Thursday is Stuck in Neutral, a book I read several years ago for a YA Lit class. This is a very appropriate book in helping kids understand that every person is so much more than what they first appear to be, but I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I loved the possibility that the book presented that people are more than they seem. But I hated the fact that with this possibility, there was no resolution. I’m not necessarily one who has to have every story tied up at the end with a big red bow, but this book left me with nothing. I felt frustrated through the entire book that there was absolutely nothing Shawn could do to show his family his thoughts, feelings, and intellect. However, I deeply admired Shawn’s attitude through his ordeal, and liked this quote: “Is it frustrating, being trapped inside a useless body? Hell yes! But what am I supposed to do? Getting crazy doesn’t help. In fact, I figured out a long time ago that the crazier I get, the worse it feels.”
I have a friend with a son who has disabilities similar to Shawn’s. He is confined to a wheelchair, and can’t move or express emotion. So, I pictured him while I read this book, and wondered how much he could really understand or feel. I thought how much his mom would love it if he could smile at her, or communicate with her just a little bit. I think this book covered disabilities from a unique angle—that of a teenage disabled boy. But, I think it also conveyed a parent’s nightmare. What if your child could think and feel, but was trapped—stuck in neutral?
I liked this quote: “I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. Negativity and self-pity are useless. Mostly, all my life, I’ve relied on humor and remembering good stuff to get me through each day. To me laughter and memory have always been the best things to fight off worry. A major theme I saw throughout the book was having a positive outlook on life, no matter what you have to go through.

Rating: 3
Published: 6.2000
Age: 13+

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