Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
Fourteen-year-year-old Shawn McDaniel suffers from such
severe cerebral palsy that he cannot give the faintest sign
that he is an alert, thoughtful, and intelligent human being
with a powerful memory. Although he cannot even focus his
eyes on his own, he is still happy to be alive. He loves
the taste of smoked oysters and chocolate pudding, the scent
of Comet in the sink, and his mother's hugs.
Shawn begins to believe that his father is planning to kill
him as a way of releasing his suffering and Shawn has no
way of communicating to his father the enormous pleasure
he has in living. The ending is ambiguous, with Shawn and
his father alone in the house.
Much of the power of this novel comes from the author's personal
experiences; his teenaged son also suffers from cerebral
In choosing this text for his students, Mr. Hoonan considered
a number of factors including accessibility, level of interest,
and quality. Although Stuck in Neutral is Trueman's
first book, it has won several awards and is generating a
great deal of positive energy among teen readers.
You can access additional resources related to this video
clip's text in the Additional Resources