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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.