Summary: Angeline is a fourteen year old living in the 1100s who joins a child’s crusade to march on Jerusalem to reclaim it for the Christians. Enamored by the faith and conviction of crusade’s leader, Stephen, Angeline finds herself being sold as a slave in Egypt when Stephen’s visions don’t turn out as planned. After expecting a triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, Angeline must deal with her disappointment and find a way to adjust to her new life, which includes bullying from other slaves and Stephen’s profound loss of faith. With the help of some unusual circumstances and some new friends, Angeline just might find a way to get almost everything she wants.
Number of Pages: 180
Age Range: 13-14
Review: I was captivated by Karleen Bradford’s exploration of one boy’s devotion to God that leads him and a large number of others woefully astray. Instead of a victorious march into Jerusalem to claim it in the name of Christianity, the journey itself kills some of the child pilgrims and results in the rest being sold into slavery.
What I noticed about Angeline is that Bradford really cares about her characters. She takes the bare bones of a historical event and does her best to write a happy ending for the people involved. I wasn’t sure that Stephen would ever get over the disappointment and questioning that he must have faced after his vision from God went horribly wrong, but I accepted Bradford’s version of possible events because I hoped he could forgive himself.
Considering the subject matter – religious crusades, main character becoming a concubine, and pregnancy at fifteen – Angeline is a remarkably light read. Bradford spares her reader explicit details and focuses instead on the character growth that takes place. Accepting what life has handed Angeline and Stephen and finding a plausible way for them to be together draws her reader’s interest and attention away from the specifics of a life of slavery in a foreign country.
I enjoyed the exploration of religions and religious themes but I was left wanting more. When I looked up Bradford’s website to include the link in my review, I noticed that she has written a whole series of books about the crusades giving me a great place to start.
“‘Good,’ Ibrahim said. ‘I have enjoyed listening to you.’
‘I have enjoyed talking to you,’ Angeline said. As she made her way back to the mosque she walked with a lighter step than ever before. How good it had been to tell everything! It was almost as if in the telling she had been able to rid herself of a heavy, heavy burden.” – Conversation between Ibrahim and Angeline from Angeline by Karleen Bradford, page 99
“Zahra’s face softened. ‘I only wish that which will be best for you,’ she said, more gently. ‘You cannot change what has happened.’
No, thought Angeline. I cannot change what has happened, but I would give my life to do so. It would have been better if I had died . . .
At that moment she felt the babe move within her for the first time. Amazed, she put a hand to her belly. She felt the faintest of flutters. Then – a kick. The tinest of kicks, but definitely a kick! She felt it! And another. She looked at Zahra, her eyes wide.
Zahra laughed. ‘Is the babe kicking? Is it not amazing?’
And then it was as if all of her bitterness melted away. Her resolve, all of her courage, returned to her in one fierce, flooding, defensive wave. This was her child! And she knew without a doubt that she would do whatever was necessary to protect it.” – Conversation between Zahra and Angeline from Angeline by Karleen Bradford, page 166
“Tomorrow she would tell Stephen what the Emir had granted them. Tomorrow they could make plans for the rest of their lives.
But for now, there was something she must do. She pulled her table over to her and took up her quill. She began to draw. Four pictures. One for each of the girls who had caused her so much misery. Heba, Anka, Nabeela, and Raful. The girls she had not been able to forgive but who, ultimately, had given her life back to her.” – Angeline from Angeline by Karleen Bradford, page 178