Friday, April 3, 2009

A Crooked Kind Of Perfect by Linda Urban 2007

I loved toe socks, back when they were all the rage. Had a few pair, actually. So, naturally, the cover picture on this book caught my eye. Once I started reading, though, it was Zoe, the 11-year-old main character, and her resilient adaptability to her quirky world, that drew me in. Zoe's mother is a dedicated controller for the state of Michigan. She is often absent from home, where Zoe's father, a slightly agoraphobic, although the word is never used, takes course after course from "Living Room University". Zoe had a best friend, Emma, until Emma decided to be best friends with someone else. And the odd, bullyish kid from school, Wheeler, suddenly starts following Zoe home after school and baking with her dad all afternoon. Underlying Zoe's daily life is her dream of playing the piano at Carnegie Hall. Pianos are expensive, so Zoe has to make do with a used Perfectone D-60, an organ. Even in the face of disappointment, Zoe does not despair. She works with what she's got and triumphs in the end.

The story is told in 1st person and Zoe never uses any medical terms to explain her father. The chapters are short, unnumbered but with titles, which seems to be a popular style in children's publishing right now. Zoe's voice is young but not childish or simple. All of this adds to the appeal of A Crooked Kind of Perfect. It's a fast read and quite appropriate for middle school and younger. A great debut for Urban.

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