Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com
I have a confession to make. I actually wasn't going to start reading CRUISE CONTROL for another week or two. After all, I had just read INSIDE OUT and STUCK IN NEUTRAL in quick succession. I have a lot of other books on my reviewing plate, and I didn't want anyone to think I had a Terry Trueman obsession. But then I decided, "I want to read this book now, I probably do have a Terry Trueman obsession, and no one is going to stop me!" So...that's my story, I'm sticking to it, and now for the story of CRUISE CONTROL...
This book is billed as the companion book to STUCK IN NEUTRAL, not a sequel. And for good reason. This book doesn't pick up where STUCK IN NEUTRAL leaves off, although I would recommend reading that one first, if for no other reason than to learn the history of Shawn McDaniel and his family. CRUISE CONTROL is the story of Paul McDaniel, older brother to Shawn and sister Cindy, son of a prize-winning poet father who abandoned their family and a mother who works hard to take care of her children.
Paul is fully aware of the unfairness and inconsistencies in his life. He's the star of the basketball team--his brother is a veg, confined to his wheelchair and unable to control any of his movements, from blinking his eyelids to swallowing his food. Paul is always angry, even to the point of physically attacking virtual strangers--his brother is unable to show any emotion, at all from love to annoyance. He hates his father for leaving the family--and yet wonders what it would be like for him to be a bigger part of it. Paul's life is, for all accounts and purposes, messed up. As his sister, Cindy, puts it: "There's no way I'll ever believe that the problems a brother like Shawn brings to a family are 'gifts from God.'"
As Paul discovers that his father might not have left the family due to abandonment, as his feelings of rage turn to shame for a secret he's kept way too long, Paul realizes the truth that his mother has long known: "It's okay to love your brother."
CRUISE CONTROL is Paul's story, and it's just as heartfelt and genuine as Shawn's. I'm sorry to leave the McDaniel family behind, but at least it's with the feeling of love and respect, and not sorrow and shame.