Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stuck in Neutral: I'm Voting This One "Most Original"

Ms. Hayes' 9th grade English class read *Stuck in Neutral* by Terry Trueman and, since I helped them with a related research project, I thought that I would read the book too. I loved it! It is really short, really fast, and is about a subject that would make even the bravest person weak in the knees. Imagine if you were able to think, feel, and understand things just as you do now, but you were trapped inside your own body? Imagine that you were in a coma, or that you had severe cerebral palsy (like the character in *Stuck in Neutral*) and were unable to communicate with anyone or do anything by yourself, so everyone, doctors included, assumed that you could not understand, think or feel? And what if you found out that your dad was thinking of putting an end to your "suffering" by killing you? Terrifying, right? Shawn considers himself to be a pretty normal teenager: he likes music, girls, and TV, and he loves his family even though sometimes they drive him crazy. The big difference between Shawn and other teenagers his age is that he suffered a stroke at birth and has gone through his entire life unable to communicate or control his own body. No one knows who he really is, and no one ever will. His dad left the family when Shawn was little because he couldn't deal with the pressures of Shawn's disability, and has since become a Pulitzer Prize winning poet. Based on some comments his dad makes, and also on the research his dad is currently working on, Shawn realizes that his dad is thinking about killing him in order to end his "suffering". Does he do it? Does Shawn's dad kill him? Or can Shawn make a connection with his dad to let him know that he's really inside, a thinking and feeling person? Hands down, 4 out of 4 Bananas!

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