I picked up an advanced copy of Ann Packer's new novel based solely on my love for The Dive From Clausen's Pier.
Her latest works tells the story of Bill Blair and his four children, now adults, and the lives they've settled into after a childhood influenced by their attentive, pediatrician father and their rather inattentive (that word may even be generous), artistic mother.
The Children's Crusade varies its point of view - you hear from all of the children at different times in their lives. There's no doubt that Packer does an amazing job of forming her characters. I could easily picture each Blair "child" - doctor Robert, psychiatrist Rebecca, free spirited Ryan, now a teacher, and then baby James, the troubled youngest child in the family. They all tell their tales at various highs and lows of the family's saga.
It's interesting, yes, and perhaps even a lovely examination into this family. I thought they'd focus more on their mother, but really, her absence both forms everything about them and nothing. I certainly found very little redeeming about her character, whereas her husband comes across practically saintly. Intentional? There is great focus on the land and family home that Bill found as a young man-- property that he buys before he's even married. The children are attached to the land and the house, and it's that house that really seems to form the center of the story, even if they no longer live there.
I liked the book, I really did, but I found myself wishing for a bit more at the end. I'm not sure what. I would definitely recommend it to others, but I wasn't dazzled by it.
Also of note, I just finished two extremely fun and interesting books -- Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time and Maggie Stiefvater's Blue Lily, Lily Blue - the third book in her Raven Cycle series. Reviews to follow soon, I hope. (And if you haven't read anything by Maggie yet, you're missing out.)
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