Stuck in Neutral Study Guide

Stuck in Neutral

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

The book follows Shawn McDaniel's first-person point of view. He is a 14-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder, affecting motor control. In Shawn's case, his entire body is affected; he has absolutely no control over any of his bodily functions. Shawn's condition is a major part of the story.

In the first few chapters, Shawn McDaniel explains to the reader his condition. He includes what he feels to be positive sides of his condition, such as his perfect memory. Shawn remembers every experience, every sensation, and everything he's ever learned from school or television. Shawn introduces his family to the reader. His mother is his main caretaker and his father is a writer who has won a Pulitzer Prize for a poem about Shawn.

The main story is about euthanasia. Shawn feels that his father Sydney McDaniel is trying to kill him. Sydney constantly talks about euthanasia. On an interview during a Jerry Springer-style show Sydney interviews a man who killed his son with a similar condition, who reveals that he just wanted to end his son's pain. In the end, the reader is left to wonder if Sydney follows the other man's example, or allowed Shawn to continue his life. Shawn frequently expresses that he dislikes being talked down to as if he were a baby. He stresses throughout the novel that he is just as intelligent, or more intelligent, than others around him. We are also introduced to his school life in the middle of the novel.

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