The Children’s Crusade, by New York Times bestselling author Ann Packer, follows the dysfunctional Blair family. Their story, spread over fifty years, is intriguing and well-written, yet solemn and melancholy. As the four Blair children try to navigate growing up, their mother slowly withdraws from their lives, just when they need her most. The children each deal with this maternal deprivation in different ways and Packer switches narrators frequently to give readers different sides of the story. The Children’s Crusade is a non-linear narrative and the constant time jumps were extremely disorienting. I often had to flip back a few pages to remember and/or figure out who was speaking. While The Children’s Crusade has some beautiful passages, the book as a whole is depressing and its subject matter too heavy-handed for the casual reader.
Review of Advance Review Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scribner
Profanity/Language: 17 religious exclamations; 3 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names; 11 scatological words; 6 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 32 f-word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: A few scenes, several pages in length, about reports of violence involving The Jonestown Massacre and Harvey Milk assassination; a few brief scenes of violence involving fistfights.
Sex/Nudity: Several incidents of kissing; non-sexual depictions of nudity involving sitting in poison oak and a comment about breast size; several sexual references and reported incidents of sexual activity; mention of a character looking at anatomy charts as pornography; several incidents of touching areas normally covered by a bathing suit, including female genitalia during childbirth; a brief scene of nudity with sexual innuendo; multiple brief scenes of sexual activity between adults without explicit detail; several brief scenes of sexual activity between minors without explicit detail.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death of family member, adultery, shoplifting, a minor running away from home, smoking and drinking, underage drinking and drug use, sexual activity between minors, mention of homosexual political figures.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Characters frequently smoke and drink; underage drinking at a party; underage drug use in a scene lasting several pages.