Reading Together YA Book: Stuck in Neutral

As part of the Reading Together Family Exploration Book Club’s Modern U.S. topic, I’m sharing my review today of Stuck in Neutral, the selected YA book. We will be discussing this book on Facebook all month.

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

Goodreads Summary:
Shawn McDaniel is an enigma and a miracle —except no one knows it, least of all his father. His life is not what it may seem to anyone looking at him. Not even those who love him best have any idea what he is truly like. In this extraordinary and powerful first novel, the reader learns to look beyond the obvious and finds a character whose spirit is rich beyond imagining and whose story is unforgettable.

My life is like one of those “good news-bad news” jokes. Like, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news—which do you want first?”

I could go on about my good news for hours, but you probably want to hear the punch line, my bad news, right? Well, there isn’t that much, really, but what’s here is pretty wild. First off, my parents got divorced ten years ago because of me. My being born changed everything for all of us, in every way. My dad didn’t divorce my mom, or my sister, Cindy, or my brother, Paul, —he divorced me. He couldn’t handle my condition, so he had to leave. My condition? Well, that brings us to the guts of my bad news.

My Review:
This book is short but so thought provoking. It’s written in first person in Shawn’s voice. Shawn has cerebral palsy and cannot control any of his muscles. He cannot communicate with anyone, and, yet, he has a great attitude and a full understanding of the world around him. I enjoyed learning about the ways that Shawn was like every other teenage boy and hearing about his struggles and those of his family because of his condition.

Shawn loves his brother, sister, and his parents. His father left the family when Shawn was young because he could not stand seeing Shawn in pain everyday. And now he wants to compassionately kill Shawn, so he won’t suffer anymore. But Shawn doesn’t want to die. He likes his life. He loves his seizures. That was perhaps the most interesting bit of all, but I won’t spoil it with an explanation.

This book is humorous despite the heavy content. It’s very well written, and it made a great audiobook. It’s a perfect book club book because there is SO much to discuss. I highly recommend it.

My Rating: 4 Stars

On the blog last year…

On becoming a writer

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  1. This book was so disturbing to me. The thought of being Shawn, trapped and unable to communicate in any way – even about something as vital as a desire to live – just gives me the shudders. It is indeed a thought provoking book, and I'm looking forward to discussing it in the book club.

  2. I love this book and am reading it with my students right now…the students I teach are English Language Learners so they are able to relate to Shawn because when they first learned English they felt trapped themselves just like Shawn. Thank you for sharing your review.

    1. Awesome. Thanks for sharing. I'm glad your students are able to relate to the character. I can't imagine not being able to communicate. I would be SO frustrated. What good motivation to learn English though. Thanks for stopping by.

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