I don't normally read books for youth but the "Family that Reads" Blog (http://kidlitblog.wordpress.com/) made the book sound so appealing that I decided to get it (which I did for free through http://www.paperbackswap.com/).
This book is told with the right combination of interesting characters and humor. The chapters are short, sometimes only a page long which makes it easy to read “just one more chapter” till you're a third of the way through the book in one sitting.
Urban wrote the book through the eyes of Zoe, the heroine of Crooked Kind of Perfect. We read Zoe's thoughts that are written in the present tense in a streamline of consciousness. Zoe, as if talking to herself rather than the reader, imagines being a concert pianist. She can see in her mind the beautiful experience it will be: dressed in a long gown and tiara, the audience dressed up in gowns and tuxedos. She plays perfectly, the audience responds enthusiastically..sigh...
Except that when her dad goes out to buy a piano, he instead returns with the Perfectone D-60. This is an organ that has all sorts of buttons to push so you can play “Green Acres” with a Rhumba beat or “Forever in Blue Jeans” to a Salsa one.
We cannot really blame her dad because he, well, he has challenges. Zoe never reveals what his particular problem is, whether he's borderline autistic, has OCD, agoraphobia or what. We only come to understand that he can't leave the house or function independently. This requires that her mother work full time and pretty much all the time.
Through Zoe's eyes we meet her best friend Emily who soon is no longer her best friend because Emily has found a new best friend; her dad's limitations that cause him not only to buy an organ instead of a piano but also 432 rolls of toilet paper (which, on the plus side negates the need to buy any more toilet paper for the next several years), a flamboyant organ teacher, and Wheeler.
Wheeler is an interesting study. He lives with his dad because his mother is gone (we don't know why). He's rather anti-social but when Zoe loses her best friend, Wheeler, in an offhand kind of way, befriends her. In fact he develops the habit of staying at her house after school and develops a chummy relationship with her dad.
The interplay between all the characters, their individual personalities and the overriding plot where Zoe learns how to play and eventually compete on the organ makes for an interesting and enjoyable read.
A Crooked Kind of Perfect will make you laugh but also sympathize with the cruelties of adolescence that nevertheless still allow us to become the independent persons that we're created to be.
What I liked about the book in addition to its humor and storyline was that all the characters were believable and lacked the usual predictable formula.
The only negative is that all the songs that Zoe learns to play on the organ will probably only be appreciated by people my age, thereby reducing the humor element for younger readers. My teenage son didn't know any of the songs. However, that didn't diminish his enjoyment of the book as we read it out loud together.
If you buy the book, please do so through my link as it allows me to get a small percentage back. Thanks!!