Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Life Happens Next

Life Happens Next

4.2 4
by Terry Trueman

See All Formats & Editions

Stuck in Neutral, a Printz Honor Book, introduced the world to Shawn McDaniel, a fourteen-year-old kid with cerebral palsy. But what happens next?

Shawn's got a new perspective on life. But no one has a clue. That's because they can see only his wheelchair, his limp body, his drool. What they don't see? His brain, with perfect auditory memory. And his


Stuck in Neutral, a Printz Honor Book, introduced the world to Shawn McDaniel, a fourteen-year-old kid with cerebral palsy. But what happens next?

Shawn's got a new perspective on life. But no one has a clue. That's because they can see only his wheelchair, his limp body, his drool. What they don't see? His brain, with perfect auditory memory. And his heart, which is in love with a girl. And his fierce belief that someday someone will realize there's way more to him than his appearance.

How do you connect with others when you can't talk, walk, or even wave hello? In the sequel to Stuck in Neutral, which ALA Booklist called "an intense reading experience," Shawn McDaniel discovers a new definition of "normal" and finds that life happens next for everyone.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Pam Carlson
Shawn McDaniel fantasizes about his sister's best friend, Ally, and what it would be like if he ever got up the courage to tell her how he felt about her. This will never happen. He will never even be able to hold her hand due to his severe cerebral palsy. Readers first met Shawn in Stuck In Neutral (HarperTeen, 2001/Voya December 2000) and discovered that he had a perfect memory and a great intellect but not a perfect body. He also believed that his father probably wanted to kill him—a mercy killing, to put Shawn out of his "misery." Now he is fifteen, and his father has left the family. His mother is his caregiver, his brother and sister protect him, but everyone still believes his mind to be that of a vegetable. And then his mother's middle-aged cousin, Debi, moves in with them after the death of her parents. Debi has Down's syndrome and is often disruptive, but in her quiet moments she becomes the first person to connect with Shawn on more than a surface level. Knowing Debi leaves Shawn uncharacteristically hopeful about his future. Trueman's nonsympathetic first-person narrative is based upon his experiences with his own son's cerebral palsy, imagining what it would be like to be a genius trapped in an uncooperative body. There is no action, no gore, and no vampires, but this short tale may just sensitize teens to those around them who are physically challenged. Reviewer: Pam Carlson
Kirkus Reviews
Trueman skates the edge of fantasy as he puts readers' hearts through a workout in this sequel to Stuck in Neutral (2000). Shawn is completely locked out of his physical body by cerebral palsy, but inside he's a smart, sarcastic and (generally) emotionally stable 14-year-old. He takes up his narrative only days after surviving his well-meaning father's aborted mercy killing (Cruise Control, 2004) and hasty departure. He's already past that, though. Between rapturous affirmations that he's developed "over-the-top, teenaged-love-junkie, mac-daddy-extreme hotz" for his sister's BF Ally and more dispassionate descriptions of diaper changes, he notes with mixed feelings the arrival of his mother's cousin Debi, a newly orphaned adult with Down syndrome, and her large and excitable dog, Rusty. Inspired by real members of the author's family, Debi and Shawn are characters whose conditions are portrayed with credible accuracy--but who also display enough self-awareness, emotional range and human insight to lift them well past any sort of typecasting. On the other hand, unlike the rest of Shawn's loving family, Debi and even Rusty somehow turn out to be able to tell what's going on in his head, and in a further credulity-straining development, Debi shows up, disability free, in his dreams after a sudden loss. A winning central and supporting cast provide strong compensation for a plot that seems overly worked and too tidily resolved. (afterword) (Fiction. 11-14)
Children's Literature - Greta Holt
Shawn's father has tried to kill him once; at least Shawn is pretty sure of it. Shawn understands that his father wants to end his suffering, but Shawn wants to live. He dares to hope that someday he will be able to communicate as others do. At fifteen, Shawn sits in a wheelchair, wears diapers, and drools. Cerebral palsy has taken his ability to communicate, and no one knows that Shawn has a wonderful memory, that he thinks, and that he falls in love. Shawn loves the beautiful Ally, who is loved by his brother Paul. Shawn must watch helplessly as Paul courts Ally. His misery is compounded when Debi, a forty-one-year-old Down syndrome woman, comes home to live. Shawn must listen to his family assume that Debi will be a good friend for him. Debi brings a dog, which is terrifying to Shawn who has no ability to move away if the dog attacks. Debi is a trial, and she will not stop staring at Shawn. Trueman continues his story of horror and redemption in his second book about Shawn. After experiencing the expanded spiritual world that becomes available to Shawn, it is difficult for readers to view disabled people with mere pity. Reviewer: Greta Holt

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.36(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Terry Trueman grew up in the northern suburbs of Seattle, Washington. He attended the University of Washington, where he received his BA in creative writing. He also has an MS in applied psychology and an MFA in creative writing, both from Eastern Washington University.

Terry is also the author of Stuck in Neutral and its companion novel, Cruise Control; Hurricane; 7 Days at the Hot Corner; No Right Turn; and Inside Out.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Life Happens Next 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BethFehlbaum More than 1 year ago
WOW. This look into the inner workings of Shawn McDaniel, a profoundly disabled 15 year old, blew me away. Terry Trueman advocates for those with disabilities simply by making them as human as everyone else. Seems like a harsh thing to acknowledge-- that able-minded/bodied people fail to see the other-abled among them as not-quite-human, doesn't it? But it's necessary to admit that we do this. LIFE HAPPENS NEXT has the message that even if others look or process thoughts differently, they deserve recognition of having the same dreams, feelings, and longing for to be touched. The message is loud and clear without being the slightest bit preachy or sad. Knowing that Terry has a profoundly disabled son makes Shawn's story all the more poignant to me. I will never look upon a person such as Shawn in the same way again--which has been quickly averting my eyes and acting as if they are invisible so as not to "stare". LIFE HAPPENS NEXT is a story that screams in a voice that cannot speak, "I am here. I am loved. I matter."