Stuck in Neutral (2000), by Terry Trueman

Shawn is brilliant; he is also stricken with such severe cerebral palsy that he cannot communicate in any way.  His Pulitzer Prize-winning father, who cannot bear to see Shawn suffer, begins an investigation of a man sentenced to 20 years in prison for suffocating his similarly handicapped son.  Shawn knows what is on his father’s mind, and has to try to come to terms with the decision his father is contemplating making on Shawn’s behalf.  Apart from the slight problem of a first-person narrative that could not be written, the situation is handled adeptly.  Shawn’s voice is authentic, and the suggestion that people in this state do in fact have significant cognitive ability is reinforced by the intense intelligence of some cerebral palsy sufferers who can barely punch out code on a keyboard, but can do it, thus making us aware of their conflicting physical and mental states.  It is an interesting topic for the YA audience to consider, made more poignant in that the author’s own son is in Shawn’s situation.


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