Author: Terry Trueman
My rating: 4.5 of 5
You might consider Shawn McDaniel a genius: he’s smart and has a photographic memory of everything he’s experienced since he was a small child. That’s if you actually could know him. . . . Actually, if you met him on the street, you wouldn’t think that at all. Because Shawn has cerebral palsy and is completely unable to interact with the world around him. So no one, not even his family, have any clue that he’s able to even think at all, much less that he’s probably much smarter than they are. Which brings us to Shawn’s very real and very immediate problem: he thinks his dad is planning to kill him and there’s nothing he can do about it.
I really had no idea what to expect when I picked up Stuck in Neutral; the cover looked interesting, so I decided to try it. But this story was a wonderful surprise; powerful and moving in ways I couldn’t have expected. It’s the sort of story that changes how you view the world around you. Trueman, whose own son has a condition very similar to Shawn’s, has a brutally, painfully real view of how the world views people with cerebral palsy and similar conditions. And he is painfully, viscerally honest about the needs these people have. But by telling the story from Shawn’s perspective, trapped but intelligent and very aware, he brings everything into a different focus and makes you re-evaluate your preconceptions. But this book isn’t just some lecture to make you feel bad about how you react; Shawn is an incredible character and I got totally wrapped up in his story, the suspense of watching his father deciding his fate. And the cliffhanger ending was excellently done, leaving things up to the reader’s interpretation. I would definitely recommend Stuck in Neutral to all readers in their upper teens and older.