The pages have stopped turning. It’s fourth quarter, the end is near, teachers are increasing their workload while at the same time student productivity is decreasing. So where can a student turn to find a fun book that doesn’t require them to give up too much of their precious time?
The answer is the award winning novel “Criss Cross” by Lynne Rae Perkins. While the reading level may be geared towards younger readers, the book offers an excellent spring or summer book that requires minimal thought and attention.
The book really has no point other than to express that growing up is confusing and weird but also a time in life when we can look to a community of people in the exact same situation for support. The story follows Hector, Lenny, Debbie and Phil as they spend a summer exploring the city and listening to a radio program known as Criss Cross.
And as for a plot summary that is about as good as you can possibly get for this book. There is, simply put, no plot. Sure each character has elements that string together throughout the book: Hector tries to learn guitar, Debbie tries to return a necklace, everyone tries to flirt with various amounts of success. But the point is that this book just describes life. Not an event in life. Not one person’s story. It just tells the reader that living means trying to work out who you are and who you love. There does not have to be some exciting moment of brilliance or excitement to define your life.
As far as a literary work goes, the book’s author isn’t exactly in the league of Fitzgerald or Dickens, but the book still has its merits. Perkins tries out various storytelling styles throughout the novel such as switching points of view and writing entirely in poetry at times. Hand drawn pictures as well as photographs from the author’s life arise as the reader peruses the pages, combining with the story to induce a sense of nostalgia in any who chooses to read.
While not a classic that will be seen in classrooms or even a big selling, fast read, this novel received the Newberry Medal in 2007 for creating a new style of fiction. One that has no story, but doesn’t need one either. The perfect fit for a lazy afternoon.