The walls at Zoe’s house are full of diplomas. And Zoe’s helped her dad earn every one. While Zoe’s mom keeps the family afloat, Mr. Elias works his way through courses from Living Room University. Unfortunately, none of the careers he’s trained for can actually be practiced from the living room, and since he has a hard time leaving the house, the next step is always another course from the catalogue. So when Zoe decides that she wants to learn to play the piano, perhaps it’s no wonder that her dad offers a paper keyboard.
Eventually, Mr. Elias does make it to the music store, but between the hustle and bustle of the mall and a convincing salesman with a catchy little tune up his sleeve, somehow Zoe ends up with a Perfectone D-60 electronic organ. It’s not what she had in mind, but it does come with lessons, and soon Zoe’s plunking away at “Forever in Blue Jeans,” the piece she’ll be playing in the Perfectone Perform-A-Rama.
Meanwhile, at school, Zoe’s best friend has moved on, leaving Zoe to make do with the boys who swarm the boxes of cookies her dad has been churning out in pursuit of his latest diploma. Wheeler Diggs likes the cookies so much he follows her home, and becomes a nearly constant presence in the Elias kitchen. Nothing in Zoe’s life seems to be going the way it’s supposed to.
But maybe it’s perfect after all.
Zoe’s dad can’t hold a job; her mom works long hours to keep things together. Both make mistakes, but demonstrate repeatedly how much they love their daughter and do their best to provide what she needs. For all their flaws, the Elias family is a team – one whose small victories will have readers cheering by the end.
Visit Linda Urban’s blog for news, interviews, personal musings, and some great resources for teachers and writers!
Cover image from A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. Copyright © 2009. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.