Review: A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban


Title: A Crooked Kind of Perfect

Author: Linda Urban

Publisher: Harcourt

ISBN: 978-0152066086


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Ten-year-old Zoe Elias dreams of playing a baby grand piano at Carnegie Hall. But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe’s dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn’t the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And the organ isn’t the only part of Zoe’s life that’s off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day. Yet when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises–and that perfection may be even better when it’s just a little off center.

What a fun book!  I have to stick with my unorthodox method of picking library books, because it seems to be working.  What attracted me to A Crooked Kind of Perfect?  I thought the colorful socks on the cover hinted at a playful story, and I was right!  Forgiving the truly terrible pun, Zoe is a ten (almost eleven!) year old with great big dreams.  She dreams of playing the piano in Carnegie Hall, and when she asks her parents to get her a piano, her dad comes home with an organ.  Not just any organ, but a Perfectone D-60. Though disappointed, Zoe begins taking lessons on her new instrument, and when she enters the annual Perfom-O-Rama organ competition, she makes some startling discovers about her family and herself. 

Zoe is such a great character!  Nothing in life seems to go her way, but she quickly learns to adjust and make the most of what she’s got.  Her dad is afraid to leave the house, so he spends his days taking classes at home.  He is afraid of everything – the weather, getting lost, running out of gas, other people.  Zoe has learned to accept his phobias, and the two of them run the house while her mom is out earning a buck.

Zoe’s mom is the rock of the family, but because she’s so busy with her work, she’s not around much.  There are times that Zoe resents her mom’s devotion to her job, but she keeps her disappointments to herself.  It’s when her mom has to work and can’t take her to the Perform-O-Rama that Zoe’s resentment bubbles to the surface.  Her dad can’t take her because he’s too scared to go outside.  What if they get a flat or a crazy truck driver runs them off the road?

What I loved about this book was how far everyone was willing to go to help each other out.  Everyone faces their fears and grows as a person.  Zoe, her dad, and her mom all go out a on a limb to make everyone happy.  Even Zoe’s friend, Wheeler, steps outside of his comfort zone to help turn Zoe’s dreams into reality.  This really is a feel good book, loaded with humor and very convincing character interaction.  Zoe isn’t perfect, and she knows it.  Her family isn’t perfect, and she accepts it.   She also discovers that even though she has to work hard for everything that she wants, achieving her goals makes all of the hard work worth the extra effort.

Grade: B+

Review copy obtained from the library