10 June 2010

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins

In a small town in the summer, a group of fourteen-year-old friends find new discoveries in everyday occurrences.  Each with their own tale to tell, the lives of Debbie, Patty, Lenny, Hector, and Phil wind in and out of each others' stories.   In the midst of it all, they come together each week to listen to the radio show "Criss-Cross" in the cab of Lenny's dad's truck.  This is a great piece of realistic fiction about growing up.  I liked it reading it now, and I think I would have loved it reading it when I was in middle school.  I admire Hector's goofy self-confidence; he wore a grass skirt to a luau for goodness sake!  I was also impressed with Lenny's mechanical genius.  Most of all, I enjoyed following Debbie as she learns that she is not as ordinary and boring as she thinks.

This is not a book for every reader.  If you like a lot of action or mystery, you will not find it here.  There is no fantasy or science fiction.  It takes place in the 1970s, but there is not enough to classify it as historical fiction.  However, if you are worried that a book that follows a couple teenagers around for a summer can't hold your interest (you are living it after all), it works hard to keep the pace up.  This book is realistic fiction to its core, and that endorsement will hold its own value for many readers.  As the title suggests, the plot line criss-crosses between each of the characters and back again; they each get their own chance at the limelight.  The writing style switches it up every now again, too, criss-crossing between styles.  Just frequently enough to keep you on your toes, you will encounter a chapter presented like a script; or perhaps in a question and answer format; there is even a chapter of haikus.
Here is my haiku in honor of Criss Cross:

Ordinary days
More exciting than they seem
Fun at every turn.

(c) 2005       Publisher:  Greenwillow Books     Number of Pages:  337     Awards:  Newberry Medal Winner

1 comment:

  1. So, I stumbled on your blog--I love it! what a great idea.

    My favorite two Young Adult authors of all time are Diana Wynne Jones and Robin McKinley--both are fantasy, but clever rather than redundant in their stories. Especially McKinley, who writes a lot of interpretations on fairy tales (three of her books based on Beauty and the Beast), yet each book is original and gripping. They are my comfort reads.