A Crooked Kind of Perfect

The book’s blurb (for once!) says it best:

Zoe Elias has big musical dreams. As soon as she gets a glossy baby grand piano, she’ll be on her way. Trouble is, what Zoe gets is a wood-grained, vinyl-seated, wheeze-bag organ. The Perfectone D-60.

How will she ever be discovered as a prodigy when her lesson book is The Hits of the Seventies? Not even a cha-cha beat can make the theme song from The Brady Bunch sound like Beethoven. If you add to that problem a mom who’s always at work, a dad who’s afraid to leave the house, and an odd boy who follows her home from school every day, Zoe’s big dreams are looking pretty lopsided.

But when she enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, Zoe discoverers that life is full of surprises — and that maybe a little lopsidedness will help her find what she’s really looking for.

This book, by Linda Urban, is not deep. It’s not earth-shattering or life-changing. It’s not even long. But it is sweet, and wonderful, and a joy to read. It’s one of those books that leave you happier when you finish it, with that silly smile on your face, thinking: Life really is okay.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Zoe is your typical 5th-grader, with the disappointment (ex-best friend and a dad who buys a organ instead of a piano), and the big dreams (she wants to play Carnegie Hall) of an 10-almost-11-year-old. I loved her dad; he was such a sweet, pathetic guy. Buying 432 rolls of toilet paper (just enough for the family to make it through until Zoe graduates from high school) and being seduced by the sounds of the Perfectone D-60. I especially liked his Library University classes. I liked how Zoe dealt with a weird, neurotic dad, too. She would alternate between loving it, and being embarrassed and frustrated by him. I liked her friend Wheeler, how he started following her home from school, because there was nothing for him at his house, and how he found a friend in Zoe and her dad. I loved the chapters; how sometimes the chapter title was longer than the chapter itself (the shortest was two words; the title was three). I thought it was very fitting that the song she played for the competition was Neil Diamond’s (if she couldn’t have diamonds, at least she could play one) Forever in Blue Jeans (I have to admit, that I caught myself humming the song after I finished… forever in blue jeans, babe). The book is full of great characters and moments.

It really was just about perfect.

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