Stuck in neutral ISBN: 9780340817452
Published by Hodder (Signatures series), 2002
Shawn has cerebral palsy. Severely disabled, he can control neither his muscles nor his speech, and everyone believes him to be mentally disabled too. In fact, he is completely aware of everything going on around him, has taught himself to read, and remembers everything he hears. His father, unable to cope with Shawn's disabilities, has left the family. Shawn's older brother is fiercely protective of him, and his sister is loving and gentle, as is their mother. His father has begun to show signs that he feels Shawn should be put out of his pain - this through intense, over-protective, love - because Shawn has seizures that appear to be painful. What no one can know is that Shawn loves his seizures. During them, he is out of his body and can fly free. All the pros and cons of euthanasia are aired movingly and thoroughly, and at the end of the book, Shawn's father has the opportunity to smother his son. We aren't told the outcome, but we know Shawn wants to live. In his mind, he has much to live for, but no one can understand this. The author has a son disabled in much the same way as Shawn, and he confesses that he doesn't know what his son is capable of. This is a profoundly disturbing and powerful book. Use with care.