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Stuck in Neutral (Shawn McDaniel #1)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  6,415 ratings  ·  818 reviews

Shawn McDaniel is an enigma and a miracle —except no one knows it, least of all his father. His life is not what it may seem to anyone looking at him. Not even those who love him best have any idea what he is truly like. In this extraordinary and powerful first novel, the reader learns to look beyond the obvious and finds a character whose spirit is rich beyond imagining a

Paperback, 114 pages
Published July 24th 2012 by HarperTeen (first published June 30th 2000)
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I have to think for a while about how to rate this book. I am definitely adding it to my "most disturbing" list. The plot of this book involves a boy who can remember everything he's ever heard. He's clever and mostly happy and loving, but he's trapped. Trapped inside his body, unable to exercise control over anything but his brain. The book is interesting from the POV aspect, wondering what it would be like to be so intelligent but for everyone else to think you are retarded. To be privy to con...more
Mar 24, 2008 Andrew rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Stuck in Neutral Terry Trueman, ISBN 0-06-447213-2, 114 pg. $6.99

This book, Stuck in Neutral, by Terry Trueman is one of the best books that I have ever read.

It’s about a teenage boy named Shawn McDaniel. He has cerebral palsy; a condition where you can’t move a muscle in your body and can’t communicate with anyone other than yourself. Shawn can only say things through his thoughts in a first person view. Shawn thinks of himself as dead-like, yet intelligent. Shawn’s dad can’t see him sufferin...more
Aug 17, 2007 Colin rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2008 Alyssa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alyssa by: Mrs. Lawton
Stuck in Neutral is the story of a young, disabled boy who suspects his father of trying to kill him. The boy has absolutely no means of communication, and is unable to express to his family how he really feels. Although he is brilliant and smarter than most, his family thinks he has no idea what is going on. He feels trapped in his own body, stuck in neutral. His father struggles with the thought that his son could be suffering, and contemplates killing him in order to end that suffering. I lov...more
There’s something creepy about Stuck in Neutral, friends. I read an interview with the author where he said that initially the book was going to be straight-up horror, and I can totally believe that. A smart (well, genius), funny, fourteen year old boy, fully conscious and aware, trapped in a CP-wracked body, knowing that his father is becoming more and more obsessed with the idea that he should Release His Son From Pain… and that there’s no way he can communicate to Daddy Dearest that no, reall...more
Destinee Sutton
This is a short book, but I still didn't finish it. I was too disturbed by the fact that the real author maybe wanted to kill his own son and was using this novel as a way of working through that.

Also, and this is kind of strange, the first few chapters reminded me of Bud, Not Buddy because the narrator in both is a little kid in a terrible situation who's just so darn upbeat about everything. And by "upbeat" I don't mean optimistic, I mean uses a lot of whimsical expression punctuated with ex...more
Ellen Hopkins
Incredible book! Terry Trueman is a REAL author.
Stuck in neutral is a short but moving book. although this book might not be the hardest or the longest the meaning of this book is very strong. this book can be read by adults, teenagers and children. this book is for all ages becuase it shows us the importance of life to a person that you may think is useless.
the book is about a young boy named Shawn who has cerebral palsy. although many people think that he can't do anything or think for himself they are wrong. Shawn is actually a very smar...more
David Dietering
Stuck in Neutral takes an uncomfortable subject and tries to shed some light on what might be happening. It is about a boy who is so severely retarded that all he seems to be able to do is have seizures. And yet he loves his seizures because they are his chance to get out of his body and visit other places. He also is upset with his father for winning an award for writing about dealing with a severely retarded son, yet not really wanting to have the son. It allowed me to see life from a very dif...more
A fantastic book that really makes you think! Shawn has cerebral palsy and can't communicate with anyone. Told from his viewpoint, the reader learns about Shawn's feelings, dreams, and also his fear that his father wants to kill him. I couldn't put it down and read it in one sitting. I will be recommending this one to any and all.
My Name is Shawn McDaniel.
I'm 14 years old.
I think my father is planning to kill me.

In a phenomenally personal story Terry Trueman takes us into the mind of a profoundly, developmentally disabled cerebral palsy sufferer who's also a quirky, insightful, vibrantly alive 14 year old. However this kid is pretty much input only. Who can tell what goes on in the mind of a child who cannot even control his own eye blinks?

While the protagonist in this story is unable to communicate with anyone in his...more
This book can have a profound impact on you if you have any emotional connection to someone with a disability. I really liked the first person narration from a teenage boy whose disability has left him mute and with no way to communicate with anyone or anything. The ending of this book can be highly emotional and due to the "possible" outcome of the end I would reccommend a dialogue and discussion if teenagers are reading it.
Cheryl in CC NV
The relevant facts are real - but is the story true? Who can know? Trueman clearly hopes that his son is like Shawn and is happy enough somewhere inside - but what if he's not? This would certainly be an interesting book to discuss with your teen. I also picked up the sequel (?) from the library and will read it soon.

(I have now read, and been impressed by, Inside Out and it is not a sequel in any sense of the word. I was confused; it's Cruise Control that is the sequel. I'll try to find that, t...more
Jun 03, 2008 Zach rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everybody
Recommended to Zach by: Mrs. Lawton
I liked this book because it would be hard to realize what Shawn sees and can't do nothing about anything. I would recommend this book to everybody. At first I didn't like reading and once I started it became easier to read and get a book done but still this book is a very good book and it made me realize that my messed up life isn't really messed up because I can do alot more things than Shawn every could and thats all I have to say about this book.....oh and the book is curious as you read thr...more
Shawn might be a genius. But no one knows, because he also has severe cerebral palsy, which doesn't allow him any control over his movements. All anyone sees is his vacant stare and seizures. His father became famous for a poem about Shawn, but now Shawn believes his father wants to kill him...

This was a really interesting point of view. Shawn was very likable and his explanations gave a new awareness of what someone trapped inside such a body might be experiencing. I also liked that Shawn's fat...more
I was expecting to cry. I did.
I was expecting to feel depressed while and after reading this. I was not.
If you're expecting a sappy dramatic novel about a boy who is strapped to a wheelchair and can't do anything for himself... you are not very far off, but the difference is that the story is not sappy at all, nor is it particularly dramatic. I mean, it is, hello, boy trapped in his own body and all, but Shawn is an optimist and the author is very original in the way he decide to present his sto...more
Shawn McDaniel is supposed to be retarded and to anyone on the outside he’s as dumb as they get. Shawn suffers from cerebral palsy and he can’t move a single muscle in his body voluntarily, he can’t write, or jump, or even look where he wants to. But regardless of what his family sees the real Shawn is stuck in his useless body unable to communicate in any way to the outside world. His one saving grace is his daily seizures, where he is released from his body; his spirit is able to roam fre...more
Kelly Herta
This is the story of Shawn McDaniel, a teenage boy with cerebral palsy (CP). He has no muscle control. He up to a dozen grand mal seizures a day. They aren't so bad as the seizures allow him to feel peaceful and free. To others he, doesn't have a life but Shawn has a does have some talents, for he can think and hear and recall everything he hears. Unfortunately, no one will ever know it. He lives with his mom, his sister Cindy, and brother, Paul. His father, Sydney, and his mother divorced becau...more
What if you woke up one day from a terrible accident trapped inside a body you could no longer control? Your mind is still in working order and you can think quite clearly, but you have no power over the smallest of movements. You can’t move or blink or swallow except by reflex. Imagine never being about to tell your family that you love them. Imagine watching helplessly as doctors and experts compare your mental capacity to that of a 3 month-old baby.

On the bright side, Shawn begins his story...more
Kelsey Trinkner
This book is very interesting. It didn't start off slowly, like many other books. It started out right away with information the reader wanted to know. The story is about a boy named Shawn who has cerebral palsy. He cannot control a single thing he does, except think. Throughout the 110 pages, you will learn about Shawn's intelligence and about his ability to remember every single thing he has ever seen or heard. This book is all from Shawn's point of view. The conflict in this story rises right...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

I'll it, right off, that I'm a very opinionated person. I believe that's why I love books that have endings that leave it open to personal intrepretation--I can use my own belief system, my own views on the rights and wrongs of a situation, to concoct my own ending. Whether it be a happily-ever-after or a tear-jerker, whatever ending you prescribe to STUCK IN NEUTRAL will, no doubt, leave you pondering the book for days.

That being said, Terry Trueman is the ki...more
Michael Humphrey
Now this book I really enjoyed. I actually pulled INSIDE OUT off the shelf first and saw that it was by the author of the printz honor book STUCK IN NEUTRAL. I checked the shelf and sure enough, saw the book. I sat down and started reading and had read the first 60 pages before I walked out of the library. At only 114 pages long, the book reads quick, helped by lots of humor and some poignant, almost painful, moments.

The main character, Shawn, is a witty, wonderful young man who is a smart inter...more
Jessica Flores
You stop the car, shake the stickshift. You're Stuck in Neutral. Terry Trueman's novella Stuck in Neutral describes the sad story of fourteen year-old Shawn McDaniel who suffers from the life limiting cerebral palsy. This story is told through Shawn's perspective of a genius i.q. and a pristine memory.

Shawn McDaniel is anything but the ordinary fourteen year old, cerebral palsy, a genius i.q., and the ability to remember every. Single. Thing. He encounters. To everyone he looks like a vegetable...more
Stuck in Neutral is a novel about a boy named Shawn Mcdaniel. Shawn was born with physical and mental disabilities. Shawn cannot tak, cannot move or even control any of his muscles. He also has seizures everyday. His father views Shawn's life as hell for him and his seizures are hard for his dad to watch. Little does Shawn's dad know that Shawn loves his life, and loves his seizures because he finds it as a way to get away from his life. However, Shawn cant speak to let his father know this, so...more
Steve Sosa
Stuck In Neutral by Terry Trueman


Shawn McDaniel...what can you say? This author hit the nail on the head with Shawn's character. Shawn is an intelligent boy with cerebral palsy. He tells you everything about himself from his feelings about family, the world, and his environment. I like they way the author uses his body as a shell that unfolds this great amount of energy and intelligence. I really enjoyed Shawn's character he put his emotions out there on the line. I especially liked the...more
Cathe Olson
14-year-old Shawn McDaniel has cerebral palsy and has virtually no muscle control. He can't even swallow on his own or focus his eyes, so it's no wonder people think he is not capable of rational thought. But that's the thing, Shawn completely conscious and rational; he even has a photographic memory. But he has no way to communicate his thoughts . . . or even let people know that he is thinking. And then Shawn's father seems to think that maybe he should do something to put Shawn out of his "su...more
Joy Walker
David and I read this book yesterday while on a short drive to visit family. Yes, it is short enough to read (out loud) in only a few hours. Keeping in mind the serious topic, the book itself is lighthearted and enjoyable to read. It makes you think and laugh at the same time.

David and I were struck by the honest portrayal of the lives of Shawn's family members who are impacted by his severe condition. Sadly, their lives as well as Shawn's are lacking any faith or hope. As such, even the positi...more
Jennifer Lavoie
A very touching book that makes the reader think. Do we really know people as well as we think we do? Who are we to pass judgement on others? This book really opens the readers eyes and makes them think about whether what they know is correct or not. My students made the connection that, just because they think someone is different, doesn't mean they are. We learned that a surprising number of students in each class have family members with cerebral palsy, and they shared their experiences with...more
If you need a short book to grab a teen/tween's attention, try this one. It has a great premise: Shawn, a teen boy with CP, who cannot communicate in any way, thinks his dad wants to kill him.

So, this is basically an exploration of what it might be like to be a bright kid, stuck in a body that is useless, with no way to let anyone know you're in there. It's only 144 pages long, so no extraneous subplots here. Then the question of what the dad might do (and why) adds a terrific amount of suspense...more
Jesycca Cousineau
The little summary in this book says, "Fourteen-year-old Shawn McDaniel thinks his father may be planning to kill him." However, the story is much more than that. Shawn has cerebral palsy, stuck in a body that will never move or communicate. But within this fragile body is a witty and intelligent mind. He comes to realize that his father plans to kill him out of mercy, but Shawn does not want to die.

I instantly connected with this book because I had an aunt who had cerebral palsy. She passed awa...more
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“A big seizure just kind of grabs the inside of your skull and squeezes. It feels as if it's twisting and turning your brain all up and down and inside out. Have you ever heard a washing machine suddenly flip into that bang-bang-bang sound when it gets out of balance, or a chain saw when the chain breaks and gets caught up in the gears, or an animal like a cat, screeching in pain? Those are what seizures felt like when I was little.” 8 likes
“my dad left my mom because of me know because i was born but because of my condition,i'm a retard knot retard” 2 likes
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