adult fiction, arcade games, book review, contemporary YA fiction, Crusader, disfunctional families, Edward Bloor, families, growing up, identity, investigative reporting, journalism, Love, loyalty, murder mystery, neglect, Roberta Ritter, teenage problems, truth, violence, YA fiction
Book Review: Crusader – by Edward Bloor
Roberta Ritter’s world centers around her journalism class at school and her work in her uncle’s arcade, located in a Florida mall. She plods through life never feeling anything, just trying to get by. Her one dream is to become a journalist. She thinks that her life is normal.
But gradually Roberta becomes aware just how abnormal things really are. Although she is opposed to violence, she numbly accepts the arcade, which features violent simulation games like Crusader. She was told that her mother died of a heart attack years ago, but she discovers that her mother was murdered, and the murderer was never caught. Her uncle, who owns the arcade, isn’t paying the bills. Hate crimes are on the rise at the mall, and she suspects that the wrong person is being accused. Her father is seldom home, preferring to spend time with his girlfriend. Her only friends are the people who work in the mall, including some high school kids who have some serious hangups. When she discovers that a local politician plans to tear down the mall and the nearby senior complex to make way for a golf course, Roberta decides to embark on her own crusade. She not only resolves to find out the truth about the hate crimes, her family, and her mother’s death, but she is determined to save the mall.
I sympathized with Roberta, and I enjoyed watching her personality and character grow as she took charge of her life. Her caring personality comes through as she takes time to listen to people and help them. She rises above her circumstances and her dysfunctional family, and she uses her journalistic talents to solve the problems facing her and those she cares about. This book is more than a murder mystery with a teenage heroine. It is a deep, complex story about the courage to live, recover from trauma, and to follow one’s dreams. I enjoyed reading it.