The Children’s Crusade

I could not put this book down, I turned out the lights at 3 AM two nights in a row.

Then again, that’s not much later than my usual bedtime.

So the way I discover books is by reading the reviews and then going to Amazon and checking the ratings. I’m only interested in that which gets high ratings. I’m a believer in the wisdom of the crowd. Assuming the book gets the imprimatur of the gatekeepers.

And the “New York Times” said “The Children’s Crusade” was lousy.


I downloaded the sample chapter. Which I did not find riveting. So I did more research. And what I was stunned to find out was the author, Ann Packer, was the sister of George Packer! When there are two famous people in a family you wonder what it was like growing up in that house, what motivated the children. And I also learned Ann’s rep was built on the book “The Dive From Clausen’s Pier,” so I decided to check that out.

Do you want to read a book about a fiancee becoming paralyzed by diving into shallow water?


But the sample cut like butter, I liked it, I bought “Clausen’s Pier.”

That’s another thing. If I buy it, I finish it.

And I also pay for books. It incentivizes me to read them.

As for the authors making money, ain’t that a laugh. Because except for a few superstars, they all have other gigs, or inherited wealth. The reason I’m paying is for me!

So what do you do if you’re unsure about getting married and your significant other gets paralyzed. Do you do the right thing or jump ship?

I’m all about doing the right thing, but sometimes do you get an excuse? I’ve got no idea what goes on behind closed doors. Nor do the people surrounding the protagonist in this story. You’re engaged, you’re madly in love. But maybe this is not true.

And the descriptions of sex are so right on you’re both touched and squirming. For all the online porn, we don’t ever really talk about sex. And we’re definitely unsure what love is.

So I read “Clausen’s” and loved it. Didn’t have a big, bang-up finish, but not every book is “Anna Karenina.”

So knowing I had a long flight ahead, I bought “Children’s Crusade,” and I couldn’t get into it. Until about 40% through (that’s how you judge where you are on the Kindle, by percentage), that’s when I got hooked.

“Children’s Crusade” is about a family.

The patriarch is a doctor, and he’s all about doing the right thing. That’s so rare today. He’s willing to sacrifice for his children, he just wants them to be happy. Are there such good souls out there?

And the four children…

The second, the girl, Rebecca, is smarter than her older brother Robert, who is plenty smart. How do you handle this? When all the attention goes to your older sibling?

And the third is a boy. Ryan is sensitive, and has a knockout, almost live-in girlfriend who… Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

And the fourth is the unwanted, unexpected, or maybe not, James. A troublemaker, a thorn in his mother’s side. The mother who…

That’s the linchpin of the story, the mother. Is she just a bad egg or did the father force her to behave this way? I wonder about this all the time. It takes two to tango. You get mad someone is not behaving in a certain way…to what degree are you responsible? Then again, I’m like that guy in the Paul Simon song, when something goes wrong, I’m the first to admit it…

And there isn’t a ton of drama.

Then again, the normal twists of fate are enough in a family.

But I saw myself in the book, and so much of the world I live in.

Which is why I keep reading.

And I’m unsure whether to recommend “The Children’s Crusade.” Because, like I said above, it doesn’t start fast. And when it gets going, it never speeds along. I’d say a third of the book could have been cut, but that’s not how the writer wanted to do it. And you should be able to do it your way. Because it’s all about total resonance with those who do care.

And I cared.

I’m still thinking about it.

“The Children’s Crusade”

“The Dive From Clausen’s Pier”

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