A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

crookedkindofperfect.JPGI listened to this one on tape in my car. It’s not a long book (only 3 cd’s), and I was disappointed when it ended. I would have loved to hear more about Zoe Elias, her agoraphobic father (my diagnosis), her workaholic mother (ditto), her boyfriend (?) Wheeler, and her ex-best friend Lily who suddenly cares more about fitting in than having fun. And when did wearing socks become “out”? How did Zoe miss that announcement?

Most importantly, Zoe is a musician. She’s longed for years to play the piano and become a prodigy, but instead her father brings home the next best thing: an organ – the Perfectone D-60. This thing is a monster with two tiers of keys, pedals, and a whole variety of electronic beats: rock, cha-cha, disco, you name it. Zoe is a good sport, and she doesn’t complain – much. Instead, she learns to play the Perfectone D-60 and even enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition to play “Forever in Blue Jeans” by Neil Diamond. Carnegie Hall this is not. Perfect this is not. How can Zoe achieve her dreams when everything in her life is just left of center? Can “perfect” ever be “crooked”?

My Most Excellent Year: a Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park

my-most-excellent-year.JPGA must-read for all Red Sox fans, My Most Excellent Year is the story of three kids in Boston navigatating the perils of high school. TC’s father is thinking of dating the school guidance counselor, Augie falls for Andy Wexler, and Alejandra realizes that she’d rather be in theatre than in politics — a decision that won’t go over well with her father the diplomat. Each character has a turn narrating the story, which is told through diary entries, instant messages, and letters. Steve Kluger, the author, is getting all kinds of kudos for this novel. On his website (www.stevekluger.com), he identifies himself as “Author, Red Sox Fan, Uncle.” The background is a shot of the Green Monster at Fenway Park. This is a fun and hefty book for readers who like a little more meat to their novels. At 400 pages, it’s wicked deep!

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

if-a-tree-falls-at-lunch-period.JPGOh wow. This was a good one, one of my faves, definitely. Kristen and Walk are in seventh grade at a fancy private school. Kristen has gained a lot of weight over the summer, and now her group of lip-glossy best friends are not quite as friendly as they used to be; she’s even shunned from their lunch table. Plus, her parents are barely speaking to one another. As for Walk, he’s the new kid, one of the only black students at school. He’s smart and cool and could be really popular, but he’s more interested in studying than socializing. At first Kristen and Walk seem to have nothing in common. He’s a boy, she’s a girl. He’s black, she’s white. He’s poor, she’s rich. He’s smart, she’s, well, average. But when Kristen discovers a secret that threatens to throw her whole life into chaos, she realizes that she and Walk share a lot more than she ever could have suspected. If a tree falls at lunch period, will anyone even pay attention? Or will they be too obsessed with their own little social dramas and petty aspirations?

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

arrival.JPGThis book has no words, absolutely none. Through hundreds of realistic illustrations, Shaun Tan tells the story of a man leaving his haunted country to start anew across the ocean. The man struggles to navigate this foreign world, full of mysterious symbols, bizarre creatures, and unrecognizeable foods. It took me only about thirty minutes to read The Arrival, but I was brought to tears by the end. The main character’s homesickness and struggles to adopt represent the experiences of thousands of people around the world. This is truly a beautiful book, both in presentation and in content.

Cherry Heaven by L.J. Adlington

cherry-heaven.JPGKat and Tanka J are starting over. With their adopted parents, the sisters move from the war-torn Five Cities to the New Frontier, where the people live in peace and harmony. In the new frontier, it doesn’t matter whether your family is Atsumisi, Mazzini, or Galresi because everyone is equal. Everyone has a chance at happiness. Everyone gets along. It’s the perfect society.

But Kat and Tanka aren’t the only people making big life changes. In a nearby factory, another girl is planning her escape. For five years, she’s been held in secret captivity as a slave for the Blue Mountain Water corporation. The directors of the New Frontier would rather kill this girl than allow her to escape and reveal what she knows. But she’s going to try. She has no choice.

Three very different girls, each growing more desperate by the minute; a secret too horrific to carry alone; and a man on a mission to bury the truth.