Criss Cross

Wow, yet another book I am wildly enthusiastic about. Could it be that this blog has brought me good luck? I just finished Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins, and it is wonderful. This is the kind of book that makes me think, “Maybe I do want to be a writer. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do this stuff?” The emotions Criss Cross brings out are completely real and totally genuine.

Now, Criss Cross isn’t an exciting book. It’s about one spring and summer shared by several teenagers living in a small town. We don’t know what year it is, but there are a few clues–such as bell bottoms and music from a record player. Nothing big happens in the story. The kids just subtly change and mature. And we are fortunate enough to see inside their heads–as Hector tries to get the attention of Meadow–who is probably too “popular” for him, as Lenny teaches Debbie how to drive (sort of), and as many other small but big events happen.

Maybe I like this book so much because I could REALLY relate to the characters. Debbie is my favorite. In two different scenes, she is found reading a book in her backyard. Hey, I used to do that! Well, actually, I still do that. Although Debbie is a fave, really I could relate to all the kids, like the story Rowanne tells about her job, where the only thing her co-workers are interested in are boyfriends. I also enjoyed watching the kids interact with their parents. They’re all between childhood’s “My Parents Are Wonderful” and adulthood’s “My Parents Really Did Know What They Are Talking About.” Here, our characters are struggling through adolescence and are not quite able to talk to their parents about it.

I have a short list of books that I consider “summer” books–really beautiful novels about kids experiencing an important summer in their lives. Perhaps that’s a reason why I like books with teenage characters so much–for them, more than for adults, summer is a time of endless possibility and change. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and The Rain Catchers by Jean Thesman are also on this short list. And now I have to add the wonderful, beautiful Criss Cross.

Note: Criss Cross won the Newbery last year. Hmmm . . . To me, this really isn’t even a children’s book. Maybe an introspective teenager would like it, but I think it is MUCH better appreciated by an adult, looking back.



  1. Ah, Rain Catchers. I could go for some honeysuckle rain today.

  2. Helen said

    I am reading the book now. It’s a bit confusing but I enjoyed it 🙂

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