Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{March 14, 2013}   {Review} Cruise Control by Terry Trueman

478529From Goodreads: How sick is this: I’m the major jock-stud in high school, but my brother has the brain of a badminton birdie and a body to match. I’ve got everything and he’s got nothing. I’m a three-year, three-sport letterman and Shawn can’t even stand up! Like I said, sick, huh?

It’s hard to be a brother to someone who doesn’t even know you’re there. How can you talk to him when he can’t understand a thing you say? How can you listen to him when he can’t speak a word? How can you love him when he’s so messed up, he can’t love you back? And how can you have a life of your own when your father bailed on the family, leaving you to be the “man of the house”?

Fueled by rage at what has happened to his family, Paul is ready to explode. And he is haunted by something even worse–something he can never tell anyone. It is something he will have to face if he is to have any hope of a future at all. While Cruise Control is a companion to Terry Trueman’s Printz Honor book, Stuck in Neutral, it is the completely independent story of a family’s “other” son–the one who is healthy, gifted, normal. It is a courageously hopeful story told with power, compassion, and humor.


A few years ago, I read Stuck In Neutral, and though I really didn’t enjoy it, the concept was very interesting—life from the point of view of a young man with Cerebral Palsy.  It’s a gut wrenching and brutal look into Shawn’s life, and there were a lot of things in the novel that I, personally, didn’t like, like all the talk of sex, which made it very difficult for me to read.  I’d say the reading level is that of a 5th or 6th grader, and it’s a very quick read, but it just wasn’t for me.  The topic was too difficult, especially as Shawn is convinced his father is trying to kill him…

Enter Cruise Control, a companion novel by the same author, Terry Trueman, which focuses on the other brother in the family, Paul, a young man who’s “perfect” in the health sense, but dying on the inside as his father continues to distance himself from the family as his brother, Shawn, struggles to get through each day.  This is a story of rage, and rightfully so.  Paul watched his father leave the family when Shawn was born with Cerebral Palsy, and though Paul loves his brother and wouldn’t wish harm on him in the least, he hates his father for abandoning them.  His rage fuels the story, giving readers and in-depth look at the father we grow to despise in Stuck In Neutral, and laying out more of the facts that we didn’t get from Shawn’s point-of-view.

This novel is written for the same reading level as its companion, Stuck In Neutral, but it adds much to the story, and, though another difficult topic, I liked this novel much more than the first.  It’s focus on Paul’s anger shows the raw depth of his feelings, and his love for his family, which is important, but it also shows his growth, as well as that of the family.  While I still don’t care for the father, I found I was much more forgiving of him in this novel and, I assume, he grows as well, able to better deal with his son.  Though it is still unclear as to the final outcome for Shawn concerning his father’s thoughts of murder, I didn’t feel as angry upon conclusion of this novel.  Truthfully, I think Stuck in Neutral and Cruise Control need to be read in tandem as they shed light on each other, even though they’re separate novels, and even though I didn’t really like Stuck in Neutral.  Three stars.   

3 stars

I borrowed a copy of this novel from the library.



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