Cruise Control

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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.

Curriculet Details
25 Questions
23 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for ninth grade students contains interactive videos exploring literary techniques as well as clips of referenced Hollywood movies that relate to this book. The annotations also include photographs and explanations that enhance student learning. Students will explore the themes of coming of age, family relations, establishing one's self-identity, and physical disabilities. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Chapter One

This is what Shawn sees outside of the window.  (This annotation contains an image)
The book's title appears in the highlighted text as part of the narrator's description of his life. What does this tell us about him? What can we infer? 
What is a grand mal? 

Chapter Two

The author is foreshadowing that something "big" will be revealed later in the book. Do you have any ideas about what that might be? 

Chapter Three

Allen Iverson played for several different basketball teams, won many titles, and is regarded as one of the finest shooting guards of all time. (This annotation contains an image)
What have we learned about the narrator thus far? 

Chapter Four

Paul is using __________ when he says that Eddie has "built up a lifetime of protection and credit with me." 
Paul's moods impact the tone as well as the overall mood of this book. Watch this video to learn more about tone and mood, and then pay attention to how the narrator's voice affects both. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter Five

Look at the highlighted text and decide if you think Paul is telling the truth or not. What is the basis for your thinking? 

Chapter Six

After you watch this video, think about Paul's internal and external conflicts, and the relationship between them.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is not a theme in this book (at least yet)? 

Chapter Seven

You can watch a film clip of this rap by following the link.  (This annotation contains a video)
The tone in the highlighted sentence is  

Chapter Eight

While Shawn's disability is not named, the descriptions of his seizures and limitations suggest that he has cerebral palsy. 
What role does Tim play in this book? What do we learn about Paul through their interactions? 
Quiz 1: Chapters 1 - 8 

Chapter Nine

The following video will help you appreciate how the author builds tension in this scene.  (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted sentence contains  
What do you think Tim is hinting at here?  

Chapter Ten

This photo will give you a glimpse of the mixed housing in Paul and Tim's neighborhood.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Paul's father speaking on a television show? 

Chapter Eleven

While this is a fictional show, it is probably modeled after one of the many daytime shows on television that feature guests with sensationalist stories. 
What is the narration of this novel? 
Mercy-killing is a complex, controversial topic. What are your thoughts on this? Write down a few ideas, as well as some questions you might have. 
This is the first time that Paul identifies Shawn as being one of "us." What do you think the metaphor of jail represents for Paul? 

Chapter Twelve

As you watch this video about character development, think about how the different characters in this book, especially the family members, are developing.  (This annotation contains a video)
What is the first clue that this excursion has been difficult for Dad and Shawn? 

Chapter Thirteen

What is most likely holding Paul back at this moment? 
Is Paul's desire to play for Shawn's benefit a new feeling or something we've seen before? 

Chapter Fourteen

What do you think Tim is crying about? Why can't he leave his mom? 
Here is a clip from "Titanic" showing Leonardo DiCaprio in the scene Paul is referencing.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter Sixteen

What is most affecting Paul's mood? 
Paul seems very surprised that his Mom and Cindy plan to attend the tournament. What can we infer from this? How might it affect the rest of the story? 
Quiz 2: Chapters 9 - 16 

Chapter Seventeen

How does the imagery in the highlighted selection complement the mood in this chapter?  (This annotation contains a video)
How is this scene between Shawn and Paul different from previous ones? 
Does this conversation between Paul and his Mom mark a turning point in the novel? Can you summarize Paul's feelings in your own words? 

Chapter Eighteen

Earlier in the novel, we see hints of something wrong at Tim's house. Now we find out what it is. 

Chapter Nineteen

How does Paul's Dad behave differently in this scene? 
Do you think that Paul's closeness with his father during his early childhood is allowing him to be open to reconciliation now? 
How do Paul's internal and external conflicts resolve themselves in this chapter? 

Chapter Twenty

What literary device is used in the highlighted sentence? 

Chapter Twenty-One

Watch the trailer to the 1987 comedy "Raising Arizona."  (This annotation contains a video)
What causes Paul to change his mind regarding considering his teammates to be brothers?  

Chapter Twenty-Two

Playing in a professional arena is exhilarating! Here is a photo of the Spokane Arena.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Twenty-Three

An antonym of the highlighted word in the text is 
Basketball is a game that moves quickly, yet the author paces this chapter more slowly than others. Think about why, and how it affects you as the reader. 
Which of the following is probably least responsible for Paul's feelings right now? 
How is the author bringing us into the story? Are you able to imagine yourself there at the arena?  
Quiz 3: Chapters 17 - 23 
Is this a satisfying and credible conclusion to the story for you? Why or why not?