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The Cruisers

Review

The Cruisers

Students at the Da Vinci Academy for the Gifted and Talented in Harlem are some of the best and brightest. But while most obsess about grades and achievements, the Cruisers believe life should be laid back and enjoyed. They have even published their own alternative newspaper, The Cruiser, which has generated controversy.

Cruiser leader Alexander (Zander) Scott likes attending Da Vinci because there aren’t a lot of fights like in some schools. Zander loves English and would like to write screenplays one day, but he can’t seem to get motivated. His grades have dropped, and if they continue to slide, he could be asked to leave the school. Even worse, he might have to move to Oregon to live with his father. Zander’s beautiful mom is his biggest supporter, but struggles to make ends meet while she pursues her dream as a model and an actress.

Math whiz and star chess player Barbara (Bobbi) McCall also belongs to the Cruisers. Bobbi gets A’s in Algebra, but her grades in other subjects aren’t so stellar. Zander’s best friend, Kambui Owens, lives with his grandmother while his father is in jail. Kambui’s talent is photography, but he also has a knack for not backing down from a fight. Abandoned by her parents and left to live in a group home, LaShonda Powell is bright and creative. LaShonda, who has her own distinctive style, wants to be a fashion designer. Outspoken and opinionated, she has written an article for The Cruiser that has caused the group to be called to the principal’s office.

The assistant principal, Mr. Culpepper, wants the Cruisers expelled, but the principal, Mrs. Maxwell, has another idea. As a school project to study the Civil War, the entire class of eighth-grade students has been divided into Union and Confederate sympathizers. To redeem themselves, Mrs. Maxwell has assigned the Cruisers the task of negotiating peace between the two sides before war breaks out. 

A guest editorial in the school’s official newspaper written by soccer goalie Alvin McCraney creates bad feelings between the two groups. McCraney, who heads the Sons of the Confederacy, encourages the Southern states to break away from the Union. As words heat up and tension mounts, students pick sides and the threat of violence escalates. Are the Cruisers up to the task of negotiating peace, or will the class project prove they are not Da Vinci material?

THE CRUISERS is an entertaining, intelligent and inspiring novel that grapples with the issues of freedom of speech, racism, broken families, drug use and standing up for one’s beliefs. Award-winning author Walter Dean Myers has captured the essence and voice of the Cruisers --- a group of vivid and gritty characters who not only survive, but thrive, despite various obstacles in their lives.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on August 1, 2010

The Cruisers
by Walter Dean Myers

  • Publication Date: July 28, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 0545828740
  • ISBN-13: 9780545828741