Crusader

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Crusader Book Poster Image
Racism, mystery, murder, and politics ... at the mall.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Could inspire a number of interesting discussions at home or in classroom settings. See our "Families Can Talk About" section. Of special topical interest is the discussion between Roberta and Sam about Western and Arab views of the Crusades and the Gulf War.

Positive Messages

Raises a number of complicated issues for teens, including what inspires prejudice, to what it means to grow up and stand up for yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Roberta begins to emerge from her passive shell to stand up to her school, a local lying politician, and finally her father, as she finds clues that lead her to a series of devastating revelations about her mother's death.

Violence

Roberta's mother is stabbed to death. Ultraviolent virtual reality games are played. Hate crimes mentioned. A teen commits suicide by running in front of cars, described fairly graphically. Kristin punches a boy who grabs her breast.

Sex

Roberta gets her period, a boy grabs Kristin's breast.

Language

Racial epithets are used.

Consumerism

Many mall stores and junk foods mentioned by name.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol, marijuana, and crack are all mentioned. Uncle Frank gets drunk, teens get stoned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book involves Roberta, who is haunted by her mother's murder seven years ago, and ultimately discovers some devastating truths about her death. A major theme here is racism and prejudice, and the many ways, some obvious but most not, that they play out. Of special topical interest is the discussion between Roberta and Sam about Western and Arab views of the Crusades and the Gulf War.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjnlmama April 9, 2008

good book

truthfully this book was difficult to read because of its serious nature. But this is a very good book that I highly recemend for teens over 15 and young adults...
Adult Written by3catmom April 9, 2008
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul April 9, 2008

Took them awhile to review this too...

Okay, here's the deal: I read this book in seventh grade (I was about 12) and I didn't have that many problems with the content. What is described abo... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 22, 2008

I loved the book; even though it was sad at times.

Edward Bloor really knows what the real world is like. It's not all about the good times, where everyone has a happy ending. Roberta's life, I'll... Continue reading

What's the story?

Roberta cruises passively and seemingly without emotion through her lousy life. Her mother was killed seven years ago, her father is rarely home, and she works after school and weekends for no pay at the family's failing arcade in a dying mall frequented by skinheads. During the course of the novel two more people to whom she is close die, one a gruesome suicide right in front of her. The only person who seems to care about her is the old lady who runs the Hallmark store in the mall. But when she meets an undercover detective investigating hate crimes at the mall she begins to emerge from her passive shell to stand up to her school, a local lying politician, and finally her father, as she finds clues that lead her to a series of devastating revelations about her mother's death.

Is it any good?

No one will ever accuse Edward Bloor of a lack of originality. His rich and complex novels, though in need of tighter editing, have characters, settings, and situation far from the usual YA literature. Roberta's story ping-pongs all over the place, between uncaring adults and burned-out teens whose lives are unprobed mysteries to their self-involved parents. Among the multitude of characters, only a very few are decent, caring people, though even they hide their hearts under masks of cynicism.

Though the story meanders, it holds the reader's interest throughout, though at times it's the fascination of an accident, making one want to turn away as much as look. It's a not very appealing look at aspects of our culture most of us would rather not see, dark, gritty, and very real. Teens will love it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the book's title. Why do you think Bloor chose to call it Crusader?

  • This book involves a murder -- and also deals with some heavy topics like racism. What was it that drew you to this book? Were you interested in the mystery -- or the issues? Or maybe both?

Book details

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

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