Students fund raise to bring author to WMMS

Award winning author Terry Trueman
Award winning author Terry Trueman

Three years ago White Mountain Middle School’s English language coordinator, Andrea Dabbs visited a library in Kalamazoo, Michigan. That was where a librarian first showed her a copy of "Stuck in Neutral," highly recommending it for all middle-school students. Eventually, Dabbs discussed the book with faculty co-worker David Sours who had read of  a national  project under which entire school populations read one book. Dabbs and Sours worked to make that happen in White City. "We started reading it on October 7 this year," Dabbs said. "It’s relevant to challenges teens have. Even the kids who hate reading, love this story."

Dabbs compiled a five-minute video featuring the students’ comments on
the poignant novel. Then she and Sours invited award-winning author,
Terry Trueman, to  meet White City’s enthralled young readers whose
lives his writing had  changed forever.
The pupils ran
fund-raisers to bring Trueman from his Spokane home to the Rogue Valley
on November 15. For several hours, visiting classrooms, and addressing
assemblies, Trueman proved to be a delightful entertainer. Currently
holding advanced degrees in creative writing, and psychology, he took
the spotlight with the quick wit, and dynamic personality of a Vegas
"Stuck in Neutral" depicts the tormented life
of fictional cerebral palsy patient Shawn McDaniel. The tale evolved
from a poem Trueman had written about his own son Sheehan, now 27,
who’d suffered a severe disability at birth.
The author’s
self-deprecating humor drew laughs from his appreciative audience of
adolescents. With rubber-faced, mock-seriousness, he prodded them to
ask him any question they wanted to. "How old are you?" said one teen.
"I’ll be sixty in December," Trueman replied. "I’ll bet you never
thought all this handsomeness could happen in sixty years." Then
patting his sparsely-covered pate, he added, "Thank you, Michael Jordan
for making this look so hot."
"What would you be if you weren’t a writer?" one girl inquired.
"Probably a criminal," he replied with a shrug.
"Did you ever get your ideas from other authors?" asked an eighth grader.  
Trueman feigned indignant shock. "Do you mean did I steal ideas? You think I’d  admit doing that? Are you wearing a wire?"
Another student called out, "Growing up, what was your favorite book?"     
"Well, I hadn’t written any yet," Trueman shot back.
all, the best-selling author has penned five novels. His sixth, titled
"Hurricane," is due out in March. His obvious favorite, "Stuck in
Neutral," was published by Harper-Collins in the year 2000. Now
available in Japanese, German, and many other tongues, it’s still
selling better than ever, according to Trueman. He recited names of
noted authors whose works also came out the same year-Lance Armstrong,
Shel Silverstein, and J.K. Rollings among them. "Stuck in Neutral"
outsold them all, he said.
Dabbs’ video fashioned in
tribute to their guest’s extraordinary talent, concluded with the
words, "Thank you, Terry Trueman. We loved the book."
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent

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