August 20, 2012

Stuck in Neutral - Terry Trueman

Young Adult
Pages: 144
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Release Date: October 9, 2001

Shawn McDaniel's life is not what it may seem to anyone looking at him. He is glued to his wheelchair, unable to voluntarily move a muscle—he can't even move his eyes. For all Shawn's father knows, his son may be suffering. Shawn may want a release. And as long as he is unable to communicate his true feelings to his father, Shawn's life is in danger.
To the world, Shawn's senses seem dead. Within these pages, however, we meet a side of him that no one else has seen—a spirit that is rich beyond imagining, breathing life.

Wow. This was certainly an out-of-my-comfort-zone experience. Which does not make it a bad one at all. Starting from the fact that the main character is a severely disabled kid who happens to be very smart but no one knows it. Shawn's voice really pulled me in because he managed to make his life interesting and witty, even though his news is mostly all bad news. He's convinced his dad is plotting to kill him. And, of course, there's nothing he can do about it.

Besides the initial disturbing wtf-moment I got when I read this, as the novel goes on you come to understand the dilemma both characters are faced with. Flawless writing and a unique premise make this novel more than worth the while. I also read it started out as a horror novel, and wow, I'm so glad it ended up taking a different route.

What I enjoyed the most though, besides the voice, was the ending. I love the open, make-your-pick endings, although since there's a sequel coming we kind of know now which is the right one. (Life Happens Next, releases today.) Nevertheless, the story was eye-opening and thought-provoking and something completely unique in YA. This short, quick read is definitely more memorable than most of the contemporary books I've read.

1 comment:

  1. I thought this was a very powerful novel and was made even more so for me when I read the author's bio and discovered his child is similarly disabled. The students at my school who've read it felt compelled to talk about it with me when they returned it.


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