My name is Mike Grasta, and I am currently getting my Masters degree in Literacy at Nazareth College. The certification that I hold allows me to teach grades 1-6, but my favorites are 4th and 5th grade. Although young adult literature is not a part of the curriculum in the grades that I teach, I believe it is important to know what today’s young adult literature is comprised of in order to best prepare my students to read it in the future.
When deciding which book to review, I tried to target a book that may have interested me when I was in my teens. I know that there are many students who do not always choose reading as their primary form of entertainment, and rather prefer physical activities. With these goals in mind, I chose the book Cruise Control by Terry Trueman. I saw the main character, Paul, as a relatable person for teen boys who are interested in playing sports, and are still finding themselves through experiences that teens frequently encounter.
Although the book is a sequel to Trueman’s novel Stuck in Neutral, your understanding of Cruise Control is not completely dependent on having read its predecessor. The story is told through the eyes of Paul, a phenomenal athlete who also excels in the classroom. Though Paul has a tremendous amount of success in the classroom and on the basketball court, he is struggling to keep his head above water at home. First, Paul’s brother Shawn is wheelchair bound and unable to communicate in any way. In addition, Paul’s father is absent, leaving him to be the man of the house with a mother, sister, and Shawn. The pressure associated with these circumstances lead Paul to a very angry and aggressive lifestyle that harvests the potential for him to make a violent, life-changing mistake.
As a reader who did not read Stuck in Neutral first, I suggest that you do to fully enjoy Cruise Control. I decided to read Stuck in Neutral after my completion of Cruise Control, and I am happy that I did. It felt as though Cruise Control was a novel that filled in gaps of understanding and detail for Stuck in Neutral. The characters were easy to relate to, however I believe that a full appreciation of the plot was only possible after having read Stuck in Neutral. Reading both novels helped me understand the multiple character perspectives that painted a much more detailed and enjoyable picture of the story of Shawn and Paul.