2006: Criss Cross (fragmented perspectives of a quiet life)

VERDICT: Treasure

Sally’s Rating: 3/5

Criss Cross is a story wherein no big events happen. Instead, Lynne Rae Perkins crafts a book that focuses on the quiet moments that occur in everyday life through the alternating perspectives of a few teenagers in a small town.

The highlight of the piece was its prose. Well-written, elegant and somewhat lyrical, the writing captures the sentiment of a lazy summer atmosphere, where no plot has much focus and the narrative feels somewhat scattered as the protagonists are just hoping for something exciting to happen. The author also experiments with different styles of text and illustration, with a chapter that is filled with line after line of haikus and a clever diagram that showcases the exact definition of the correct pant length for jeans. It’s a fun read, if only for the author’s clever use of words and styles.

Throughout the book, each character goes about his or her normal life with the occasional detour along the way. I particularly enjoyed Hector and his desire to learn how to play the guitar. In another vignette, Debbie and Peter decide to take the bus two stops away so they can walk around somewhere they had never been before. The ordinariness of their day is somewhat refreshing to read, and teenagers may easily connect with their actions and emotions.

Criss Cross was a creative if unexciting entry in the Newbery Medal winner list. I think this book is definitely more for the younger teenage crowd that enjoys thoughtful characters that could easily take the place of a best friend in the real world. But don’t bother reading this book if you don’t particularly enjoy books filled with vignettes about everyday happenings.


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