Life Happens Next is the sequel to Stuck In Neutral by Terry Trueman and honestly, after reading this book, I can’t wait to check Cruise Control, the companion novel out of the library. So, um spoiler alert: Shawn doesn’t die, and so Life Happens Next focuses on Shawn’s life after he avoids being murdered by his dad.
To re-cap, Shawn McDaniel is a secret genius with cerebral palsy. The world thinks that he is a vegetable but he remembers everything he hears. In this sequel, Shawn’s cousin Debbi comes to live with him and his family. Debbi is 41 and has Down’s Syndrome and a mean dog named Rusty. She totally adds a whole new dynamic to the relationships in Life Happens Next and we see how the whole family adjusts to her living with them.
Shawn certainly experiences character growth in Life Happens Next as in this book he learns about different kids of love, letting go, and different ways to perceive people and how people are perceived. For example, Shawn starts out the book with a crush on his sister Cindy’s best friend Ally, but can never act on it, given his inability to communicate. So, Shawn must move on from those feelings.
He must also sort through his feelings for Debbi who annoys him but at the same time changes his life. As Debbi is another character who enters Shawn’s life, she’s developmentally delayed, but relatively active and can do certain things on her own.
I quite liked the new relationships Terry Trueman put in Life Happens Next – particularly between everyone and the dog, because Rusty does bring change and it’s fabulous seeing the characters begin to earn Rusty’s trust. I also liked the relationship and differences between Shawn and Debbi. Life Happens Next is a great book to learn compassion without pity or condescension.
Disclosure: Received for review.
Other reviews of Life Happens Next by Terry Trueman:
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