Stuck in Neutral

>> Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Author: Terry Trueman
Recommended Age: Young Adult
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN:  0-06-028519-2
Year Published: 2000
No. Pages: 114
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Main Character Gender: Male 
Read & Reviewed by: Nathan

Shawn McDaniel, a fourteen-year old boy, has cerebral palsy and is basically trapped in his own body. He almost seems dead. However, Shawn is not what he appears to be. Although Shawn has no control over his body and has severe seizures, he can hear, understand and remember almost everything. No one knows who he really is especially his father, who he suspects is thinking about killing him.

This is a realistic fiction novel from the point of view of Shawn. Terry Trueman’s use of this technique is effective as it allows me, the reader to see the inner thoughts of a severely disabled boy who is extremely misunderstood and cannot interact with anyone. By allowing me to see Shawn’s struggles first hand I can understand Shawn’s thoughts and feelings better subsequently putting myself in a position of empathy towards him. Shawn’s character shows strength and faces his disability with courage. He does not wallow. This novel made me think about people with disabilities and the fact that I shouldn't judge them by their appearance.

In addition to Shawn’s struggles, the novel also shows the moral dilemma faced by Shawn’s father in his decision to end what he sees as Shawn’s suffering. It is a decision I would never want to have to make. Who has the right to take another’s life even if they are “suffering”? Who can fully understand the situation unless they live it? Although it would not be my choice to end my child’s life, I can sympathize with Shawn’s father and his decision to protect his child from suffering.

In the novel there is an unanswered ending and it made me think about the book long after I read it. Terry Trueman leaves clues to the resolution of the book but the dilemma is still unresolved so I was left thinking about what really happened in the end.  Books with such endings are thought-provoking, ensuring I’ll be asking questions about this story for months to come. My awareness and curiosity in euthanasia are now more present than they were before. I will think of Stuck in Neutral as society continues to debate the ethical and morality of euthanasia.

This book is a mature read because of some of the language and the heavy subject matter. I read it in four days, and I'm a very slow reader. I’d rate it a solid 9.5/10. Although this is a dark and depressing read, it is profoundly moving and provocative.

design by:

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP