Criss Cross was the winner of the 2006 Newberry Medal. This story takes place in the 1970s where a group of 14-year old friends spend the summer in that self-conscious, awkward and yet hopeful phase when they begin to leave childhood and enter young adulthood.
Debbie is one of the main characters- at the beginning of the book, she longs for something to happen. Something good. And it does, kind of. During the summer, she helps an elderly woman, saves a neighbor’s life, meets a boy, learns to drive, attempts to connect with her mother, and listens to a radio show with her friends.
Hector is one of Debbie’s friends. He is funny and kind and introspective. He’s the kind of guy who smiles at himself in the mirror, just for encouragement. During this summer, he discovers a passion- for music- and begins guitar lessons. There Hector meets Meadow, a girl he tries hard to impress. Some comedic scenes arise as Hector tries to show his affection (our favorite involves an elephant ear and an old lady!)
Other friends- Lenny, Patty and Phil- have story lines that criss cross with Debbie and Hector’s. And none of them are exactly the same by the end of the book. They’ve changed during this summer while exploring who they are and who they could be.
This book is one that many teens will identify with. It led to conversations about dating, pressure from parents, ageism and values. The virtue of Hope was discussed often- Hope for what our futures could be and how to use Prudence to bring about that future.