At the beginning of Stuck in Neutral, Shawn McDaniel introduces himself to the reader with a summary of the "good news" and the "bad news" about his life. Among the good news is that he lives in Seattle, a city he loves, and has a "pretty cool" brother and sister. He also has remarkable powers of memory, which amount to total recall.
The bad news, however is that, in the eyes of the world, Shawn is, as he puts it "a real retard" and "dumb as a rock." This is the way he appears to people because he has cerebral palsy, a condition which prevents him from moving any of his muscles and therefore from communicating his intelligence and intellectual gifts to anyone else.
Shawn enjoys various aspects of his life and, although his condition can be frustrating, he is not despairing. However, his father is convinced that life with such an extreme muscular condition cannot be worth living. It appears to Shawn, therefore, that his father is determined to kill him. His motivations are humanitarian and benign—to put Shawn out of his misery—but Shawn wants to continue living and has no way of communicating this to his father any more than he can share his intelligence with the world.