Saturday, January 05, 2013

Life Happens Next

Life Happens Next  Trueman, Terry. Life Happens Next.
21 August 2012, HarperTeen

This sequel to Stuck in Neutral and Cruise Control picks up just as Shawn McDaniel has survived what he thinks is his father's attempt to kill him. Shawn is severely disabled by cerebral palsy, and he thinks that his father wanted to smother him but was interrupted by a call from Shawn's brother, Paul.  Shawn is very bright, with a great memory, but he is completely unable to communicate with anyone or control his body, so people assume he is cognitively impaired as well. When his mother's cousin, Debi, moves in with the family with her dog, Rusty, Shawn is at first dismayed. As he warms to Rusty, he also realizes that Debi, who has Down syndrome, seems to understand him in ways that the rest of his family does not. Shawn is glad to be alive, even though he knows that his crush on Ally will always be unrequited, and he must take pleasure in things like the feel of brand new socks instead of the myriad experiences that he sees his brother and sister enjoying.
Strengths: Stuck in Neutral is used as an 8th grade core novel on "challenges", and it is one that students always enjoy. They will be glad to see what Shawn is doing now. This was definitely a compelling read-- I wasn't enjoying anything I picked up, but I zipped through this in no time.
Weaknesses: A bit too much information on how much Shawn likes Ally, but as least there isn't any of the cursing that I seem to recall from the first book. I could be wrong; I don't have a copy around to check.

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