Stuck in Neutral (Stuck in Neutral Series #1)

Stuck in Neutral (Stuck in Neutral Series #1)

by Terry Trueman


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Stuck in Neutral (Stuck in Neutral Series #1) by Terry Trueman

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.

The paperback features an Extras section, giving readers even more insight into Shawn's life, and includes a Q&A with Terry Trueman, as well as a sneak peek at the sequel to Stuck in Neutral, Life Happens Next.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064472135
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/24/2012
Series: Stuck in Neutral Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 114
Sales rank: 59,333
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Terry Trueman grew up in the northern suburbs of Seattle, Washington. He attended the University of Washington, where he received his BA in creative writing. He also has an MS in applied psychology and an MFA in creative writing, both from Eastern Washington University.

Terry is also the author of Stuck in Neutral and its companion novel, Cruise Control; Hurricane; 7 Days at the Hot Corner; No Right Turn; and Inside Out.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My name is Shawn McDaniel. 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 wanna hear first?"

In the jokes, it's always the good news first, so here goes: I've spent my entire time on planet Earth, all fourteen (almost fifteen!) years I've been alive, in Seattle. Seattle is actually a hundred times cooler than you could believe unless you lived here too. Some people gripe and moan about the rain and the weather, but I love Seattle. I even like the rain.

Our house is about a mile from the Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle, Key Arena where the Sonics play, and the Pacific Science Center. And we're only about a mile and a half from Bell Town, the unofficial former Grunge Capital of the universe. I'm the youngest kid in our family, three years younger than my sister, Cindy, and two years younger than my brother, Paul, who, although I'd hate for them to know I admitted it, are pretty cool for a brother and sister.

Okay, that's good news, huh? Here's some more: I have this weird–I don't know what you'd call it–ability? Gift? Power? Whatever name you want to give it, the thing is that I can remember everything I ever hear, perfectly, with total recall. I mean Everything! Perfectly! Totally! I don't know of anybody else, anywhere, who can do this. Most people remember bits and pieces of things they've heard in life, but I've got it all, every sound, ever.

This started when I was three or four years old. At first I could only remembermost of what I heard. But by the time I was five years old, everything I heard just stayed in my head. I can remember people talking, TV commercials, every melody I've ever listened to from boring, brain-dead country Muzak to nasty rap lyrics, to the theme music from Jeopardy!, to–well–everything: lines from movies, overheard conversations that strangers were having in the street, like–"Well, do you still love him or not?" I heard one lady say this to another lady while they were waiting for the bus in front of our house, and swoosh came the sound of the bus along the wet road, and its brakes went squeal . . . eeeekkk and the other lady answered, "I don't know. I haven't eaten turkey since he left on Thanksgiving."

For all you know, I might remember, perfectly, what you said to your girlfriend two years ago when I overheard you two fighting outside the Orange Julius at Northgate, or what your dad said to you in Champs when you were ten, and you and he were shopping for a baseball mitt. Remember, you wanted that Ken Griffey Jr. autographed model but your dad said it cost too much. He wanted you to buy a cheaper one made in Taiwan. Your dad said, "Come on, I can write Ken Griffey Jr. right in here," and he pointed at a spot in the pocket of the glove, and you said, "Can you really do that?" And your dad said, "Has the pope got a bullet in him?" And you both laughed. I'm not making it up. It happened. And if I heard you again, even once, after all these years, I'd recognize you, I'd remember your voice, the sound of it, perfectly.

I hope I'm not coming off as conceited here. I'm sure I am. I mean, I do think that my hearing memory is kind of amazing, but it's not like it's made me rich or famous. I just happen to have this one talent that I know makes me gifted and special–yuck! I hate that word "special" when it's applied to people. As in "he's a very special person." Geez! Who isn't! But the other side of people is true too. Everybody has negatives about themselves, stuff they wish wasn't a part of them. The bad news about us.

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.

One bad news deal is that in the eyes of the world, I'm a total retardate. A "retard." Not "retard" like you might use the word to tease a friend who just said or did something stupid. I mean a real retard. Real in the same way that total means total. As in total retard: Everybody who knows me, everybody who sees me, everybody, anybody who even gets near me would tell you I'm dumb as a rock. Let me illustrate through the wonders of science.

Every year the school district sends out a school psychologist (scientist) to test me for IEPs (Individual Educational Plans). And every year since I was six, the psychologist gives me a bunch of tests ("scientifically normed and standardized"), which are mainly intelligence tests filled with shapes and colors, square pegs and round holes, and "Who was George Washington?" and "What's two plus one?" And every year I sit there and miss every question, fling the blocks into the air or drop them all over or smack myself in the eye with one. Then the shrink goes in and gives my mom a number: I.Q. = 1.2, or mental age 3 to 4 (that's months, not years). Then the psychologist packs up his scientific garbage and moves on to the next dummy.

This has gone on for eight years now. Every year, year in and year out. Yep, according to the world I'm dumb as a fence post. I've heard the docs explain why they think I'm so stupid to my parents and my parents explain it to their friends about a trillion times. They think it's because my brain doesn't work. They don't know that is only partially true.

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Stuck in Neutral 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 97 reviews.
Big-Mac More than 1 year ago
Stuck in neutral is a great book about a kid with disabilities. It is very interesting to see what the world might be like in the mind of a disabled kid like Sean. When Sean was born his father left him but, when Sean was older his father came back and wanted to,” put Sean out of his pain”. You will have to read the book to discover the crazy twist in this interesting thriller. I really liked this book because, I think it is very interesting to picture the world through a kid like Sean’s eyes. It was also interesting to hear his comments and wonder if disabled people really think like that. I dislike this book for only one reason, because there wasn’t enough to read! I would really recommend this book because it is really a great book and has plenty of drama. It is really a fun book and I would recommend it to almost all readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book may be the best book I've ever read in my entire life, and as an avid reader, I take this statement very seriously! I have never thought so much while reading a book as I did with this one. It's an emotional ride, but 1,000% worth your time! Don't pass this one up!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stuck in Neutral Have you ever taken the time to think about other people who are different than you? Some people might, but many probably really don¿t realize what others go through. I have just finished reading Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman. If you enjoy reading books that make you think, then I would recommend this book. I would really recommend it to everyone it¿s the type of book that once you start to read you don¿t want to stop. As I said before, many people don¿t realize what others go through. This book is about a fourteen year old boy named Shawn who has cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a condition where the person has no control over the body functions and cannot move, talk or do anything by themselves. In this book, Shawn¿s father is thinking about killing him, saying ¿[m]aybe you¿d be better off if I ended you pain (21).¿ This is what his father told him, without knowing that Shawn can actually hear him. The significance of the book¿s title Stuck in Neutral is that Shawn¿s life is as if he was literally ¿stuck in neutral¿ because he doesn¿t have control over his life and can¿t stand up for himself. I believe that the author¿s purpose in writing is to make people who read his book think. The writer wrote this book because he has a son who is in the same condition as Shawn. The author wanted to invent a character and a world which might be based on how life might be like for his son Sheehan. I believe that the author¿s intended audience in reading would be all ages, because he wants people to realize that others who are in the same situation as Shawn need to be treated with respect, even if they might not be able to understand or hear you. The author interpreted the character¿s situation in this story by showing what others think of him and what he thinks. This character was mainly based on the author¿s own son because they are in the same situation, but the author also added parts that he thinks could happen. The whole story seems like it could happen and just seems so realistic. The narrator¿s point of view is mainly that everyone thinks he is a ¿retard¿ because of intelligence tests that show his brain does not function properly. The person telling the story is Shawn, the one they say doesn¿t have a properly functioning brain. He¿s actually really smart, however he just can¿t talk and do things for himself. I feel that it is important that Shawn is telling the story because that is what makes it so interesting. It makes you think, ¿What if people who were in the same condition as Shawn really did know what was going on, but couldn¿t do anything about it?¿ In this book, I really couldn¿t connect to any of the characters. Paul, Shawn¿s older brother,sneaks him potato chips once in awhile behind their mother¿s back If I were in Paul¿s place, I could see myself doing that also. I think that the author was successful with his goals in writing the book. I believe that I did learn what the author wanted me to learn because it¿s true. We can¿t answer questions like, ¿Does he like potato chips and rock and roll?¿ We just don¿t know if people that are mentally challenged understand what we tell them or if they have the capability of feelings like we do. I think that the author wants his readers to realize these things. Hopefully, the readers will treat people who are in the same situation as Shawn with respect instead of treating them like they¿re a doll or something after all they are human beings. My final conclusions about the book are that it really makes you think and realize, ¿What if?¿ From when I started the book, I didn¿t want to stop reading it kept me thinking throughout the whole book. I do agree with the message that we don¿t know what others in the same situation as Shawn know, and we can¿t answer questions for them. We don¿t know if they understand us. We can just hope they do and hope they feel all our love for them. I did like the ending, but at the same time I would have liked if it
HARNAK2850 More than 1 year ago
"My name is Shawn McDaniel. I'm 14 years old. I think my father is planning to kill me." As can be seen, Terry Truman's "Stuck in Neutral" is about a mental boy who thinks his father is planning to kill him. With believable as well as sensitive characters, a tragic plot, and a universal theme makes Terry Truman's "Stuck in Neutral" an over all great, attention grabbing, as well as emotional book. Terry Truman makes the main characters, Shawn McDaniel and Sydney E. McDaniel, believable as well as sensitive. To me, these characters are sensitive because Shawn loves everyone. The father, Sydney E. McDaniel, wants to kill his son because it was painful to see Shawn go through his misery. The author makes the plot of the book "Stuck in Neutral" tragic. In this story a mentally ill kid finds out his father might kill him but throughout the story he says he doesn't want to die. The father did not want to kill him, but seeing his child suffer throughout the day was painful for him to watch. KLIATT, a critique, said, "...heart-rending, this novel was written by the [father] of such a child, as [he] explains in an author's note at the end. This book will provoke thought and discussion..." Terry Truman's message for the book is universal. Generally speaking, the message Terry Truman tried to send was that people aren't as they appear. This theme is universal because it can affect anyone. I think that this is the theme because in the story the father appeared to be intelligent, passionate, and smart in front of everyone. Later in the story the father's grief got the best of him. The father didn't appear as he was in the beginning because in the beginning he didn't want to kill his son and now he does. Terry Truman "Stuck in Neutral" is a spell binding, mournful, five star books because of the tear-jerking plot, the cast of sensitive, characters, and a theme that applies to anyone. This book, by Terry Truman, would make readers want to cry and make them want to stay all night reading this book. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy emotional books because the way the boy talks about his father knowing his father will kill him is very sad.
AustinJ1121 More than 1 year ago
I read how this book for summer reading because it has a smaller book. But this book showa how the life of a disabled person lives daily. Shawn McDaniel, who has Cerebal Polsy. He lives with his mom,brother, and sister. His dad walked out on him when he was six, because he couldn't handle taking care of disabled person. This book shows the reader what disabled people do day after day,and how hard there life is. Read the book to find out the rest of the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book Review Outline Book title and author: Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman Title of review: Stuck in Neutral book review Introduction A boy named Shawn has a disease to where he cannot move anything. He thinks his dad is making a plan to kill him. Description and summary of main points A boy named Shawn has a disease and cannot move or talk. Evaluation I think this book is really worth reading. It is a very good book. I would highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stuck in Neutral is a book about a 14 year old boy named Shawn, and he has Cerebral Palsy. He isn't capable of interacting physically or verbally to anyone. In reality, he considers himeself a genious. He knows how to do most of the things other people can do, but he has no one of letting anyone know. He lives with his Mother, Sister, and Brother. His father walked out on them a while ago because he wasn't able to cope with Shawn's problem. The story is set in Seattle. The book is quite depressing in the way it shows what his life must be like, trapped inside a body that won't let him express himself. However, it is also very enlightening, encouraging the reader to imagine what someone in that situation might feel. Shawn is almost posotive that his father, a poet, want't to put him out of his misery by murdering him. His dad feels like he would be doing the right thing, but Shawn explains in the story that he's not ready to die, and give up so easily. He want's people to know how educated he is, and what they see isn't really what he is. The books ends with Shawn being so sure that his father is about to kill him, then suddenly he gets a seizure and no ones knows exactly what happened. I thought it was a weak ending to an amazing book, which is a shame. Maybe the author wants the readers to create their own ending? Because I know I did. This story is very dramatic, and far to believable. I would recommend it to anyone.
tutorial98 on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Brutally honest and engaging, Terry Trueman pulls you deep into the mind of a young man who, by all appearances, is stuck inside a useless body he cannot control with a mind equally handicapped. The reality is that his mind is sharp, comedic and philosophical. An amazing story written by an author with unparalleled insight.
lcherylc on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Cerebral palsy, lives with the thought of knowing his father wants to ¿put him out of his misery¿ and kill him.
mattsya on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Trueman provides a great concept--a boy made entirely immobile by cerebral palsy is in fact a genius--and adds onto it an extremely suspenseful and claustrophobic setting.
ewyatt on LibraryThing 5 days ago
I was hooked by the tag line on the front cover. "My name is Shawn McDaniel...I think my father is planning to kill me." Shawn can not communicate with anyone at all because of his cerebral palsy, but inside he is bright and alive. However, his father's growing activism in a case of a mercy killing is making him edgy. Shawn is a great character and this quick read shows the impact of his condition on the members of his family. Good stuff!
karriethelibrarian on LibraryThing 5 days ago
What would it be like to be alive and the only thing you can do is be awake or be asleep? You can't talk, walk, move any part of your body voluntarily, eat, or even express your feelings through your facial features. This is what life is like for Sean, who is trapped inside his own body. His family thinks he's a vegetable and that he can't understand a word that is said to him. But behind Sean's seemingly unknowing eyes is the mind of a very intelligent and sensitive young man. He is aware of everything around him, understands the conversations his family has in front of him, and can pick up on everyone's emotions, including his father's increasing agitation about how pathetic Sean's life is. Then one day his dad -- who has moved out of the family house because he can't stand the stress of having a handicapped son -- starts talking about euthanasia and how it would be better to put some people 'out of their misery.' Is Sean miserable? He doesn't think so. In fact, Sean is pretty happy with his life, but with no way to tell anyone that he quickly feels as if danger is heading his way. Could his father actually 'put him out of his misery?'
JRlibrary on LibraryThing 5 days ago
The story is told by a young man who, everyone believes, is stuck inside a useless body he cannot control with a mind equally handicapped from cerebral palsy. His mind is actaully sharp, comedic and philosophical. An amazing story which causes the reader to rethink the way they view those who are developmentally delayed. There is a follow up novel told from the brother's perspective.
akamarian on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Told from Shawn¿s point of view, Stuck in Neutral effectively shows the reader Shawn¿s intelligence and humor. We see that like his mother, Shawn deals with life¿s difficulties with a positive attitude. Most importantly, we see that Shawn is a complete person. This is what makes us feel strongly the poignancy of a life lived in secret awareness where no one really knows who Shawn really is. This is a moving and thought-provoking story.
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi. Awesome book.i guess ill go now.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had to read it for school
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stuck in Neutral was a great book that got me thinking and gave me a new perspective on how I look at people who are mentally challenged. It makes me think that they are not just a person that is without a mind, but that they may be abnormally intelligent. The main character Shawn McDaniel has his own world in his head and wonders how it would feel to be “normal”. He gives you the insight on how a mentally challenged person thinks and lives. This is a great book and would recommend it to anybody.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kenken22 More than 1 year ago
the book stuck in neutral is about a fourteen year old boy named shawn. he suffers from cerebral palsy. i liked the book because it made me feel like i was actually in the book experiencing what shawn was. i loved how the author made everything in real life. i didnt like that the ending at all and i thought that they should have taken more tests on him so they could see how smart he really was.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stuck in Neutral is a story about a kid that can not talk or express his feelings. He is like an aver age teenage boy and has the same thoughts, some of them are odd, but funny. He is in a wheel chair. He rides in a van. He also has a sister , that brings her friends over and he has a crush on some of them. It was a funny book it has a good meaning to it. I did not like the end you do not know what happens. Its great for teens or preteens. It is an over all great book and it you get the chance to read it do it.
crazigilli More than 1 year ago
In my last class of the day, I finished this book. I read the last page, blinked, read it again, threw the book down (completely frusterated) and cried. My school's book club read this book together this month. My librarian reccommended it because she said it truely moved her. This book is about someone who has a very different perspective on the world than you and I. I could not imagine what it would be like, unable to speak, move, or control my eyes. Reading this book, however, made me think. The story was an emotional rollercoaster for me: there were parts where I was so disgusted with the father and sister that I wanted to throw the book across the room and scream at them for being so ignorent.. and there were parts where I cried from the love that his family showed to him, from his brother protecting him, to his mom patiently feeding him. I sincerely reccomend this book to the brave, who are not afraid to think.