Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins

Grade 6-9–The author of the popular All Alone in the Universe (HarperCollins, 1999) returns with another character study involving those moments that occur in everyone's life–moments when a decision is made that sends a person along one path instead of another. Debbie, who wishes that something would happen so she'll be a different person, and Hector, who feels he is unfinished, narrate most of the novel. Both are 14 years old. Hector is a fabulous character with a wry humor and an appealing sense of self-awareness. A secondary story involving Debbie's locket that goes missing in the beginning of the tale and is passed around by a number of characters emphasizes the theme of the book. The descriptive, measured writing includes poems, prose, haiku, and question-and-answer formats. There is a great deal of humor in this gentle story about a group of childhood friends facing the crossroads of life and how they wish to live it. Young teens will certainly relate to the self-consciousnesses and uncertainty of all of the characters, each of whom is straining toward clarity and awareness. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Classroom Implications: Noted for its unique writing style and narrative voice, this text brings a welcome new energy to vitalize classroom libraries. It contains illustrations and photographs, as well as presents two narrators of the story. This book may take some scaffolding around the author's style, but once students get the hang of it, they won't want to stop reading this story on teenage life.
Skills and Strategies
  • Point of View
  • Characterization
  • Author's style

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