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"Heartbreaking and poignant with a touching, positive conclusion." - Kirkus Reviews
"Gripping." - Booklist

Crusade was a book I wouldn’t usually read. Though it is YA, I consider this outside my usual comfort zone, where I drown myself in teen romances and contemporary stories. In a sense, Crusade is a difficult read, but like the little kids in the story, pushing through to the end, I loved it.

It’s different. Different couldn’t begin to describe how I felt reading this book.

Robert was a child abandoned on a church when he was young. Bearing a hideous scar, and was horribly taunted by children for it, he was shy and reserved, when one day his fates changed when the priests discovered his brilliance, and became a prodigy of the Abbot of Blois. Georgette, on the other hand, was a peasant, who came from a small village, raised by the village priest.

I couldn’t even begin to imagine being apart from my family for days, let alone months. And the characters in this story were little kids! I had a hard time swallowing the fact that children even as young as seven would answer to the call of the Crusade, leaving behind their families for a great cause, for God. People were poor, and the only thing they can hold on to was their faith. And what other way to show their faith than to join a Holy Crusade?

It was something that you know was bound to fail. How can kids who were merely in their teens defend themselves, let alone reclaim Jerusalem from grown men, experienced in fighting, when they finally arrive to the Promise Land? Will they even arrive? But for some reason, it was fascinating to see how most of the kids held on to the journey. It was hard, daunting, and my heart felt like it was being crushed into pieces every time a child succumbs to the harsh journey. I’d like to think they were blinded by their own faith, but who am I to judge the kids in the story?

It was a heartfelt read. Linda Press Wulf’s book was a unique journey through the time where faith was so strong; it’s like a tangible thing, something everyone can believe in when they have nothing else to turn to. Georgette’s voice was vivid, and though wavering at times, it was a truthful account of a child who went for a journey that would change her life in ways she didn’t even imagine. This combined with Robert’s deeper understanding and complex musing of his life and his faith, providing a clearer voice to the story, made Crusade an unforgettable read.

Religious in ways that matter, Crusade is a story of a band of children’s journey seen through the eyes of Robert and Georgette, two very different people with a story of their own to tell, brought together in the end by the very same Crusade that had abandoned them. After all, you can’t talk about the Crusades without touching the subject of Christianity and how it was during those times. This side of the story made me re-examine my faith a little bit, but it’s what made me like the book more.

Linda Press Wulf has a remarkable talent for writing. It’s evident in how detailed her writing can be. I’m usually reluctant to read historical books, but you can tell how Wulf is well-versed with the theme she chose to write on.

Over all, reading Crusade is a gamble I’m glad I took. I have learned to love Robert and Georgette and was delighted to read along as they matured, their characters forged into something stronger through all the hardships and the loss they have faced, the love that they have for each other, and the important realizations they have come to about faith and life in general, all of which they wouldn’t have known were it not for the doomed Crusade that brought them together.

I’m surprised that I loved Crusade more than I thought I would, and I’d gladly recommend this book to anyone who would love to read a book with a deeper message once in a while.