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Excerpt: 'Criss Cross'

by Lynne Rae Perkins
Nov 21, 2005

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Lynne Rae Perkins

Young people at the crossroad between childhood and adulthood confront the choices that must be made along the way in this title recommended for 12- to 14-year-olds by children's librarian Maria Salvadore.

Excerpt: Chapter One, The Catch

She wished something would happen.

She wished it while she was looking at a magazine.

The magazine was her sister Chrisanne's; so was the bed she was sitting on and the sweater Debbie had decided to borrow after coming into Chrisanne's room to use her lip gloss. Chrisanne wasn't there. She had gone off somewhere.

Thinking she should be more specific in case her wish came true, even though it wasn't an official wish, it was just a thought, Debbie thought, I wish something different would happen. Something good. To me.

As she thought it, she wound her finger in the necklace she was wearing, which was her own, then unwound it again. It was a short necklace, and she could only wrap her finger in it twice. At least while it was still around her neck.

The article she was looking at was about how the most important thing was to be yourself. Although the pictures that went with it recommended being someone else. Looking at them together made it seem like you could do both at the same time.

Debbie checked her wish for loopholes, because of all those stories about wishes that come true but cause disasters at the same time. Like King Midas turning his daughter and all of his food into gold. Even in her own life, Debbie remembered that once, when she was little, she had shouted that she wished everyone would just leave her alone. And then everyone did.

The trouble with being too careful about your wishes, though, was that you could end up with a wish so shapeless that it could come true and you wouldn't even know it, or it wouldn't matter.

She wrapped the necklace around her finger again, and this time it popped loose, flinging itself from her neck onto a bright, fuzzy photograph of a boy and a girl, laughing, having fun against a backdrop of sparkling water.

Debbie picked up her necklace and jiggled the catch. It stuck sometimes in a partly open position, and the connecting loop could slip out.

Something like that, she thought, looking at the photo. Wondering if it would require being a different person.

In a way that doesn't hurt anyone or cause any natural disasters, she added, out of habit.

Fastening the chain back around her neck, trying to tell by feel whether the catch had closed, she thought of another loophole. Hoping it wasn't too late to tack on one more condition, she thought the word soon.

The wish floated off, and she turned the page.

From Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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