Reviews for Criss Cross


Booklist Reviews 2005 October #2
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 6-9. This lyrical sequel to All Alone in the Universe (1999), a Booklist Editor's Choice, begins with one of many black-and-white drawings and a caption that reads, "People move back and forth in this area like molecules in steam." As the title and caption imply, this story reads like a series of intersecting vignettes--all focused on 14-year-old Debbie and her friends as they 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. Perkins adds many experimental passages to her straightforward narrative, and she finds poetry in the common exchanges between teens. One section of dialogue, written entirely in haiku, reads, "Jeff White is handsome, / but his hair is so greasy. / If he would wash it--." A few cultural references set the book in the 1970s, but most readers will find their contemporaries in these characters. 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. ((Reviewed October 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
Perkins's wonderfully contemplative and relaxed yet captivating novel, illustrated with her own perfectly idiosyncratic spot art, is a collection of fleeting images and sensations--some pleasurable, some painful, some a mix of both--from her ensemble cast's lives. Set in a 1970s small town, the third-person narrative floats back and forth between the often humorous, gradually evolving perspectives of its characters. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #5
Catching fireflies in a jar, fourteen-year-old Debbie (first met in Perkins's spectacular debut novel All Alone in the Universe, rev. 9/99) watches the bugs' "glow parts go on and off," appeasing her guilt over capturing them by convincing herself that "once they were free, their small, basic brains would...have no memory of being imprisoned." Perkins's wonderfully contemplative and relaxed yet captivating second novel, again illustrated with her own perfectly idiosyncratic spot art, is a collection of fleeting images and sensations -- some pleasurable, some painful, some a mix of both -- from her ensemble cast's lives. Like All Alone in the Universe, the story is set in a 1970s small town, but teen readers won't have to be aware of the time period to feel connected to Debbie, Hector, Lenny, and the rest as the third-person narrative floats back and forth between their often humorous, gradually evolving perspectives. The book's title refers to a radio show that the neighborhood teens listen to on Saturday evenings; on a thematic level, it also refers to those barely perceptible moments of missed communication between a boy and a girl, a parent and a child, when "something might have happened" but didn't. In keeping with Perkins's almost Zen-like tone, such flubbed opportunities are viewed as unfortunate but not tragic. "Maybe it was another time that their moments would meet." Like a lazy summer day, the novel induces that exhilarating feeling that one has all the time in the world. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2005 August #2
Debbie, from All Alone in the Universe (1999), returns in a poignantly funny coming-of-age story. Set in the town of Seldem (conjuring up "hardly ever") in the leisurely era of double-knit bell-bottoms (fully illustrated), this limns crisscrossing moments in the lives of teen friends. It begins with Debbie's yearning for something to happen. What happens is a poetic mélange of sweetly ordinary moments in a summer of block parties, fireflies, warm apple dumplings, romance and social awkwardness as the characters try to "find all their pieces" and watch life rearrange itself. Told by an omniscient narrator (who may be the author), this offers multiple perspectives and diverse formats including photographs, exquisite and funny drawings, haiku and a dialogue written entirely in questions. It comes full circle as the two introductory characters, Debbie and Hector, almost wake up to each other at a summer party: "Their paths crossed but they missed each other." Written with humor and modest bits of philosophy, the writing sparkles with inventive, often dazzling metaphors. A tenderly existential work that will reward more thoughtful readers in this age of the ubiquitous action saga. (Fiction. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 October #5

Through narrative that has the flavor of stream-of-consciousness writing but is more controlled and poetic, Perkins (All Alone in the Universe) captures the wistful romantic yearnings of three friends on the brink of adolescence. There's Debbie, who makes a wish that "something different would happen. Something good. To me." There's Hector, who hears a guitarist and quite suddenly feels inspired to learn how to play the instrument. Then there's mechanical-minded Lenny who feels himself drawn to Debbie. The characters spend spring and summer wandering about their neighborhood, "criss crossing" paths, expanding their perspectives on the world while sensing that life will lead them to some exciting new experiences. (During a walk, Hector feels "as if the world was opening, like the roof of the Civic Arena when the sky was clear. Life was rearranging itself; bulging in places, fraying in spots.") Debbie forms a crush on a boy from California visiting his grandmother. Hector falls for a girl in his guitar class. Lenny hints at his feelings for Debbie by asking her on a date. All three loves remain unrequited, but by the end of the novel, Debbie, Hector and Lenny have grown a little wiser and still remain hopeful that good things lie ahead if they remain patient. Part love story, part coming-of-age tale, this book artfully expresses universal emotions of adolescence. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)

[Page 58]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 September

Gr 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. The book is profusely illustrated with Perkins's amusing drawings and some photographs.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY

[Page 210]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2005 October
One Midwestern, mid-1970s summer, Debbie wishes for "something different to happen. Something good. To me . . . in a way that doesn't hurt anyone or cause any natural disasters . . . soon." And something does happen, as things often will in the lives of quiet, introspective teenaged girls. Quite a few things, actually-Debbie overcomes a hopeless crush on the worthless (if dishy) football player Dan Persik; learns to drive stick from her encyclopedia-memorizing, gearhead friend Lenny; saves the life of her feisty elderly neighbor, Mrs. Bruning; starts to fall in love with Mrs. Bruning's grandson, Peter; and develops a new theory about love in general. Revolving around Debbie are her friends Hector, who is learning to play guitar; Lenny, whose shyness and mechanical aptitude have let him drift away from academic classes; Patty, who recites spontaneous haiku; and Mrs. Bruning, whom Debbie meets by chance. Each character's story is connected to Debbie's by filaments reminiscent of a spider's web-seemingly insubstantial or invisible but surprisingly strong This modest title boasts a wry sense of humor in its prose and illustrations, an earnest sense of wonder at the universe, exquisite phrasing, sly allusions to A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a pace as leisurely as summer itself. Destined for cult favorite status among fans of Francesca Lia Block and Lynda Barry but worthy of a far wider audience, this book is a dreamy read for dreamy teens, the kind who, like Debbie, add considerate postscripts to selfish wishes.-Sophie Brookove PLB $16.89. ISBN 0-06-009273-4. 5Q 3P M J S Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.

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