What are the themes of Stuck in Neutral?

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One of the themes of Stuck in Neutralby Terry Trueman is disability. The main character and narrator of the book, Shawn McDaniel, has cerebral palsy, and is nonverbal. Through Shawn's narration, he reveals the inner thoughts of someone who is unable to communicate with others. Many people, including those...

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One of the themes of Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman is disability. The main character and narrator of the book, Shawn McDaniel, has cerebral palsy, and is nonverbal. Through Shawn's narration, he reveals the inner thoughts of someone who is unable to communicate with others. Many people, including those who love him, look at Shawn as if he is cognitively as well as physically disabled. However, Shawn reveals his intelligence and sense of humor as he narrates his story. The theme of disability is explored to show that disabilities and people themselves are dynamic and complex.

Another theme of the novel is the importance of a father-son relationship—or familial relationships, more generally. Shawn is devastated by the way that his father struggles to accept his condition. He believes that in order to end his assumed suffering, his father might kill him. Shawn desperately wants to communicate to his father that he does not wish to die; he is a thinking, feeling person inside, struggling to get out. His father's love is both healing and destructive, which can be true of many parents.

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The main theme is about Shawn's quality of life.  With his handicap, Shawn will never be able to have a relationship with a woman.  He'll never be able to walk, feed himself, or even take care of himself on his own.  He will never be able to hold a job to take care of himself.  These are things to consider, and the end of the story makes the reader wonder if his life is worth keeping and living.  Hopefully most of us say YES!  Shawn wants to live.  He has no desire to leave this world yet.  He's got a great sense of humor, has a great memory, and is quite intelligent.  All of these traits play into whether his life is worth living.  Others may see his life as unbearable, but to Shawn, it's what he knows.  It's his life to live.  No one else knows what goes on in his mind, so they don't know that he's content.

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