Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

A brief history of my reading Linda Urban's A Crooked Kind of Perfect: I had prepared myself not to like the book; I'm not a big fan of drama in kids' literature and the content lent itself to drama (mother works all the time, father has OCD, she's an outcast at school) so I feared that the book would take itself too seriously.  But one of my favorite bloggers, ShelfTalker, raved about it so much that I grudgingly checked it out of the library.

And the book blew me away.  So fabulous I got goosebumps multiple times.

The story is about Zoe Elias who has grand visions of playing the piano in Carnegie Hall after watching a PBS special about Vladimir Horowitz.  Since Horowitz makes his debut at 17-years-old, Zoe figures that (since she is almost 11) she has six years to learn how to play piano perfectly; a chance to wear a tiara, long gloves and maybe get her distracted mother's attention and admiration.  However her well-meaning father gets overwhelmed while trying to purchase the piano and ends up buying an organ from the mall- the Perfectone D-60- instead of the shiny grand piano she has been daydreaming about.  Since six months of free lessons are included, Zoe begins by learning how to play t.v. themes and 70s pop tunes.  Her enthusiasm to learn and passionate practicing prompts her teacher (Ms. Mabelline Person- pronounced "Per-saaahn") to register her for the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition.  Now if she can only focus on her practice while dealing with her father's neuroses, her best friend's ambivalence, her new friend- a boy, her mother's hectic schedule and her own insecurities.  

This book amazed me.  It was the perfect snapshot-of-childhood story with humor and poignancy but poignancy that was never heavyhanded.  I couldn't stop talking about it and trying (unsuccessfully) to relate parts of the book to anyone who would listen to my meandering until I said, "Well, you should read it, that's all."

I don't know what else I can say about it.  You should read it, that's all.

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