Critical Overview

The reviews and discussions of Criss Cross (and Perkins’s other work) all largely agree on the novel’s relatively few weaknesses and its many strengths. Actually, even the weaknesses are not really negatives but more attempts to warn readers about Perkins’s marked and consistent style, such as the limited number of externally dramatic events that occur in the novel and its relatively quiet tone.

As for the positives, reviewers praise three major aspects of Criss Cross: its style, its sense of humor, and the timeless realism of character emotions. The main way critics differ is what to call the style. A brief review in Publishers Weekly says it “has the flavor of stream-of-consciousness writing but is more controlled and poetic.” Booklist calls the style “experimental.” Horn Books refers to Perkins’s voice as “Zen-like,” and an anonymous article in Children & Libraries refers to the structure as “postmodern.”

No matter how reviewers struggle to classify Perkins’s style, which shifts points-of-view and the organization of text on page even as it blends in illustrations, all agree that the humor is present, if quiet and wry, and the emotions are genuine.