Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stuck in Neutral

Long time since I've done a book review, but here goes. I read the young adult book Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman. It is a very quick read and rather compelling. Shawn is 14 years old, completely disabled, and convinced his father is planning to kill him, yet Shawn has no way to communicate or do anything for himself. 

I really can't say if I like this book or not or if I would recommend it or not. I know I would not read it to any but the hardiest of children. There were parts that creeped me out (crept me out?) and also some parts I liked and found life-affirming. 

I was interested in Shawn's story because two of the Bananlets have significant cognitive disabilities and I am always trying to understand what life might be like for them or for others with even greater needs. The glory of this book is that it gives hope that even in cases that seem the most profoundly hopeless, we just do not know what sort of life is really there but is invisible to us because of inability to communicate. My favorite paragraph challenged me to reconsider what pleasures would be remain to someone completely disabled:

I love my mom, brother, sister, dad. Although I can't connect with things through my senses, there is an energy inside me and around me; somehow all the things I think about and remember turn to joy. Pure joy: favorite movies, paintings I've seen and loved, music on compact discs, pinecones, chocolate pudding, the taste of smoked oysters (thank you, Paul!) the sound of motors, a bright-red 1966 Ford Mustang. I love the  idea of books and the dusty smell of them on bookshelves, the scent of Comet in a stainless steel sink. I think of the way, on cool mornings in November, the sun pours in through my window, and covers my hands. I think about my baths every night with Mom dripping warm water from a big soft sponge down my back, the hairbrush passing through my hair after the tangles are all gone, all of it turning to joy. Life can be great, even for me. Even for me.