Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

This is one of two books for our February book club.

image from LibraryThing
It doesn't take long to read the book - but it takes a long time to get the story out of your mind. It's one that will haunt me.

The story is about Shawn McDaniel, told by Shawn. He is a 15-year-old trapped in a body which obeys no one. Shawn was born with cerebral palsy - an extreme form that has affected his brain stem. That means he can not control any voluntary movement in his body. Only involuntary reflexes like swallowing and breathing function. His IQ comes out about 1.3 - that's about a month old baby.

But, there is a dastardly twist. Shawn can remember absolutely everything he hears - forever. He thinks he may be a genius. But, no one will ever know because he can't control his body enough to share that gem.

Add to this a father who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a poem about Shawn. His famous father seems on the brink of a monumental decision... is Shawn's life so painful that the merciful thing to do is to end it. Is that what a loving father would do?

There is the book - a simple enough tale.
But what do we think? At one point Shawn's father asks an audience member on a TV talk show..."Have you ever told someone to pull the plug if you are brain dead following an accident?" With that the audience is silenced - and Shawn and I that what his life is?

What would we do? How do we know what is happening inside a person's head when their body does not allow us to know? And how would a father show his love?

And that is why this short youth fiction book haunts me...and will probably haunt you to!

1 comment:

suzanne said...

This was another one that really got me thinking when i finished also keeps me thinking back to it whenever i see kids and/or adults in similar circumstances. There is another book by the same author which tells the story from the brother's perspective...Cruise Control...i haven't read it yet but i am interested.