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October 30, 2008

Stuck in Neutral

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Stuck In Neutral

Author: Terry Trueman

Page Length: 114

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction


PLOT SUMMARY: Shawn McDaniel is fourteen years old. He is the average teenager – interested in girls and sports. He has an amazing mind and can remember details from conversations. The problem is that no one knows how brilliant Shawn is because he can’t tell them. He’s confined to a wheelchair, unable to move or speak, and prone to violent seizures. Everyone thinks he is incapable of thought or feelings, except maybe his dad. Shawn’s father is fixated on his son’s suffering; he cannot stand to watch his body tremor during a seizure and he’s feels guilty about Shawn’s suffering. Shawn fears that his father may be plotting to kill him.


REVIEW: This book takes a powerful look at the what if. What if mental and physical impairments aren’t always as comprehensive as they seem?  What if what we have always assumed to be true isn’t true after all?  Trueman paints a vivid picture of what life might be like for Shawn – colorful, rich, and exciting in its own way. As The Horn Book reviewer writes “evoking one of our darkest fears and deepest hopes — that a fully conscious and intelligent being may be hidden within such a broken body, as yet unable to declare his existence.”


AREAS FOR TEACHING: description, imagery, word choice in writing, mood, tone, author’s purpose


TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: pages 91-93 – violence as Paul nearly beats to death two boys torturing his brother, seizure descriptions, anger from siblings


RELATED BOOKS: Cruise Control, Inside Out, No Right Turn


RELATED MOVIES: “Rain Man,” “Gaby,” & “Touched by Love”





REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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