Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

I finished reading A Crooked Kind of Perfect, by Linda Urban, over a week ago and I really wanted to review it here but I got bogged down with other stuff. I am going to say right at the top here that this is my Newbery medalist prediction. It's not my very favorite book of the year, but it has that Newbery vibe going.

More than anything, ten-year-old Zoe wants to play the piano. She wants to be a prodigy like pianists in movies. She daydreams about herself in a flowing gown, sitting at a grand piano, playing on the stage at Carnegie Hall. In reality, Zoe's dad buys her a Perfectone D-60, an electric organ. Not the same thing at all!

Other things are not quite right either. When the cool girl at school invites her to a shoe-themed birthday party, Zoe brings socks as a gift. After that, Zoe has to sit at the boy's table in the cafeteria. The boys turn out to be pretty good friends for Zoe, especially Wheeler. Wheeler starts coming home with Zoe after school and befriends her agoraphobic father. Dad takes lots of correspondance courses on things like scuba diving or bread baking - things he doesn't actually do. While his fear of leaving the house can put a burden on Zoe, he's also a lot of fun and very supportive. Mom is in the picture, but is a workaholic. There are some touching scenes between Zoe and she, but dad is the major parental figure.

Zoe's Perfectone teacher invites her to participate in an organ competition; Zoe thinks "recital". Practicing "Forever in Blue Jeans" for her "recital" is not exactly what Zoe had in mind for her break-out performance, but she discovers that she really enjoys playing, even if it's not classical prodigy stuff. With the big competition to prepare for and fun at home with Wheeler and her dad, Zoe realizes that the strangest things can add up to perfect.

It was the well-drawn characters and quirky situations that made this novel really special. It's the author's first book, so I look forward to seeing more from her.

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