Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

Zoe Elias knows she is destined to be a famous concert pianist.  Well, she will be, if only her parents would get her a piano and piano lessons.  But Zoe doesn't get a piano.  She gets a Perfectone D-60 organ.  And organ lessons.  Not exactly what she had in mind.  Miss Parson becomes Zoe's organ teacher and encourages her to participate in the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition.  While it might not be Zoe's big concert dream come true, she's willing to give it a shot.

This was another book that was nice.  And we need nice books for kids.  Not every book needs to tackle a big issue.  This book, however, goes outside the usual "nice book" realm by addressing some more serious issues too.  Zoe's dad has some kind of anxiety disorder.  People make him very anxious, especially large crowds of people.  So anxious, in fact, that he rarely leave the house.  He has trouble driving because he worries about getting lost and something bad happening.  He pretty much gets overwhelmed by the outside world.

This is difficult for Zoe at times.  She and her dad are close, and they clearly love each other very much, but she also needs her dad to be a dad sometimes, not just a friend.  He really comes through for her when he manages to drive her to her recital, even though he's afraid, because he knows how important it is to her.  Zoe learns to accept that her family is not perfect.  Her parents don't have a lot of money, they can't give her all the things other girls have, her mom is always working, her dad is a little odd and can't do everything other dads do, but they love each other and they're there for each other.

Zoe also deals with the usual middle school drama.  She figures out who her real friends are, and who is only willing to be friends with her when there's no one else around.  She struggles some with fitting in, and ultimately deciding she doesn't need to fit in.  She kind of has a crush on a boy, but it doesn't really go anywhere, they're still just friends at the end of the book, which felt right.

There was also a happy ending, with Zoe finally getting a piano.  The kid deserves it!  I really liked Zoe.  She had a very true voice.  She's someone who's easy to relate to.

So, very nice, very sweet, but with some heft to it as well.  Definitely recommended for that middle school kid who wants to read about girls that are just like her.

Also, I'm totally going to start using exclamations like "Chopin's toaster!" and "Mozart's postman!" a la Miss Person.  Awesome.

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