Stuck in Neutral Questions and Answers
by Terry Trueman

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What does Shawn think about his class in school?  

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In the book Stuck in Neutral, Shawn McDaniel is a fourteen-year-old living with cerebral palsy and is physically incapable of caring for himself. He also cannot speak, so his family members believe he's brain-dead—but he is not. Shawn has a perfect memory and can recall everything that has ever been said in his presence; unfortunately, he has no way of letting his doctors or family know that he's "alive" inside.

Shawn lives in Seattle, Washington, with his mother, his sixteen-year-old brother, Paul, and his seventeen-year-old sister, Cindy. Shawn's siblings attend Shoreline High School, which Shawn attends part-time. When Paul sees Shawn there, he is sometimes embarrassed to admit that Shawn is his brother.

When Shawn is not attending Shoreline, he goes to a Special Education Program for the Severely and Profoundly Handicapped. The class is quite small and numbers only seven students, including Shawn. Although no one knows, Shawn is probably the most intelligent student in the classroom. He describes the atmosphere in the room as being similar to a zoo, with students slobbering and rocking back and forth like animals. Of course, he understands that he is one of these "animals" too. Shawn refers to the others, and himself, as "retards." He doesn't believe this is a slur; he just uses it to describe those who have injured brains or can't move.

Shawn's teacher is named Mrs. Hare, and Shawn appreciates her efforts, even if it sometimes doesn't seem like she's making a difference. There are also two teaching interns in the classroom, whom Shawn likes very much: William and Becky. In fact, Shawn has a crush on Becky, but he reminds himself that this will be impossible to pursue since he cannot speak. Shawn appreciates attending school, even if this dream will never be realized.

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