Stuck in Neutral (英語) ペーパーバック – 2001/10/9
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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.
I have read it about two or three times and it`s a pretty good book. It also features a good deal of humor. The book also includes some stuff about love; but it`s not too much to be distracting. The plot of the story is about a boy Shawn, who thinks his father is going to kill him. I know, pretty drastic, right? But it`ll even out when you read the book.
I usually read his assigned books with him so we can discuss them and I help him think critically to be able to complete his essays, book reports and other written assignments. Good as a summer reading book.
But Stuck in Neutral, told from Shawn's point of view, reveals a witty narrator with a photographic memory and a zest for life, even if he's not able to communicate it to his family. There's not a trace of self-pity, even though he's at the mercy of family and caretakers for everything from feeding to bathrooming, and he's in a class of profoundly retarded classmates. The plot revolves around the suspicion that Shawn's father is planning to kill him out of "mercy" for Shawn's suffering and his ever-present seizures.
The binding link that weaves throughout the story centers on his father's poem about young Shawn that won numerous awards including the Pulitzer. Now his father, who deserted the family years ago, is a celebrity for his poem that presents Shawn as a helpless, pitiable object, not the funny, smart teenager that he's become, if only in his head, and his father seems inspired by a recent "mercy killing" of another handicapped child.
Trueman does a masterful job of leaving the ending open (he penned a novel written from Shawn's brother Paul's perspective, Cruise Control, that explores Paul's feelings towards his brother and his situation, which is also open-ended in its final decision), and Shawn is an utterly hip, real narrator that shows us how easy (and dangerous) it is to judge someone based on appearances.
STUCK IN NEUTRAL is a book that will stay with me. I will never look at the Life Skills kids in my school the same. Terry Trueman's story pulled me into Shawn's world-- and ultimately opened my mind about people that I am just as guilty of ignoring as Shawn's family is. What an amazing, amazing, powerful read. Should be required reading in high school.
While the protagonist in this story is unable to communicate with anyone in his world , this book gives us an inner monologue that shows us a unique individual who's glad to be alive and who is relishing each and every new life experience with the wonder of a child (and sometimes that of a horny kid). This kid's inner monologue connects with the reader on a level that books seldom do. Written by the father of just such a boy, this book may even afflict the reader a bit too, only the body parts that the sympathetic reader will be unable to control are the tear ducts. And yet for the most part this is NOT a sad, maudlin, tear-jerker of a book.
One really needs to read this oneself to experience the full effect but even the visceral dread that one experiences as the kid describes his fear that his father may end his life in order to spare him continued suffering is only accentuated by the feel of having so few pages remaining unread in the book.
I've rated Terry Trueman's other book Inside Out as being an unsung work of genius, this, his first book, is perhaps even better. If you ever wanted to really fulfill that old adage about understanding someone by walking a mile in his moccasins, pick up one of these books.