In 2001 Terry Trueman won a Printz Honor for Stuck in Neutral. It was a powerful book, got a lot of attention, and ended with a cliffhanger-15 year old Shawn thinks his father is going to kill him. I didn’t think the book cried out for a sequel, which is an interesting topic in an of itself and a recent post on the Hub is all about the rash of sequels coming out many years after the first book (cannot wait for Lois Lowry’s Son.) And once you know there is a sequel the conversation about what you think might have happened to Shawn is gone. Because obviously he’s alive.
Shawn is 15 and has cerebral palsy to such a severe extent that he has literally no control over anything having to do with his body. People think he’s practically a vegetable, but in fact he’s quite smart and a keen observer. His story is told in first person and it is a bit heartbreaking to think that there may in fact be people who cannot even blink or move their eyes to let you know that they are aware, listening, engaged in life. The book is fairly short and mostly involves a cousin coming to live with them who has Down Syndrome. She gives Shawn and even keener insight into life and how people are engaged with it.
I definitely did not feel as wowed by this as I did by Stuck in Neutral. Because it’s only Shawn’s point of view and you know that his situation will not change it felt like a lot of the same things were just being said over and over again. I hate to say that, but I did grow a little tired of it. Nonetheless, it is certainly thought provoking and moving.