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Criss Cross (CRISS)

Lynne Rae Perkins
Picture of Criss Cross
Price: $6.99
Format: eBraille (download)

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Ages 9 and up

    She wished something would happen. Something good. To her.
    Looking at the bright, fuzzy picture in the magazine, she thought, Something like that.
    Checking her wish for loopholes, she found one.
    Hoping it wasn't too late, she thought the word 'soon.'

This is the opening of this lovely and gentle young adult novel, a series of intersecting vignettes -- all focused on 14-year-old Debbie and her friends as they start to leave childhood behind. Perkins writes with subtle, wry humor about perceptive moments that will speak directly to readers: universe-expanding crushes, which fill the world with "signs and wonder"; scornful reappraisals of childhood things (Debbie's disdain for Nancy Drew is particularly funny); urgent concerns about outfits, snappy retorts, and self-image.

The descriptive and spare 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.

Best of all are the understated moments, often private and piercing in their authenticity, that capture intelligent, likable teens searching for signs of who they are, and who they'll become.

If you know a young reader casting about for a good book in an off-Potter year, give this lovely book a try.

More summer fiction from NBP:

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