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Criss Cross

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Criss Cross Book Poster Image
Lyrical tale of small-town teens in a '60s summer.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 12 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Focuses intently on the small, mundane things in life, but really shows the beauty in them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters aren't defined and are difficult to keep track of, but they seem to all be well behaved and thoughtful.


One instance of s--t.


A soft drink brand is mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character uses chewing tobacco, which is depicted as being disgusting.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Criss Cross is a Newbery-wining novel by Lynne Rae Perkins about small-town teens whose paths cross one summer in the 1960s. There's one instance of swearing, and a teen character uses chewing tobacco, which his friends find revolting.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byElvenfoot April 24, 2012

Didn't like, but prove me wrong

I feel dumb, because I am a teacher and should be on board with medal winners--but I didn't like this book at all. It was slow, dull, and lacking in much... Continue reading
Adult Written byjoysoccer April 9, 2008

Great book about early teens finding who they are

This is a great book for ages 11+ it's a little confusing..but in the end it is worth it! I enjoyed reading this book and relating to the characters..great... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old August 4, 2009

Criis Cross is GREAT!

This book was so cool!!!! i love it when peoples' lives intertwine in books! I think Lynne Rae Perkins did a wonderful job not only writing this book, but... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 8, 2010

Over all bad!

This was the worst book I have ever read it had no plot no action and was just bad!!! I had to read it for a school project all I wanted to do was get to the la... Continue reading

What's the story?

This book is about one '60s-era summer in the lives of an assortment of very nice small-town teens. Just like a real small-town summer for teens, not very much happens. Life is pleasingly slow and languid. They listen to the radio, wonder about the opposite sex and about themselves, hang out, talk, grow a little, change a bit, come to a few understandings they didn't have before.

One boy is inspired by a college coffeehouse to take some guitar lessons in the basement of the church. A girl befriends and helps out an elderly woman. Paths cross, connections are made, or missed. It's real life, lyrically rendered.

Is it any good?

CRISS CROSS is an intriguing book, absolutely deserving of major awards. It has no plot, only slightly defined characters who are hard to tell apart or keep track of, no hero or protagonist or clear point of view, no action or suspense or mystery, just a touch of gentle humor. And yet ... it is a deeply lovely book, profoundly observant and wise about the little things in life that most books, children's or adult, ignore, or perhaps don't even notice. So what keeps the pages turning? Is it the gorgeous writing, the penetrating insights, the little bits of philosophy and keen observation?

It's something of a little miracle, really -- the author spends three whole pages describing a boy looking at himself in the mirror, and it's almost impossible to put down. Either this kind of thing grabs you, or it doesn't -- and for most kids age 10 and up, it won't. A few, those with a thoughtful or poetic or mystical bent, will find it enthralling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the many little observations and insights in the book.

  • How do people connect, or miss connecting?

  • What are the moments that push our lives in different directions?

  • Is there only one person out there for each of us?

Book details

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