Saturday, February 14, 2009

Zoe Lucky by M. Carol Coffey

Here is a mystery book for the young and young in heart. Despite her name, Zoe Lucky isn't feeling very lucky. After the loss of her dad, the Oakland burglar escaped from jail and her mom started working night turn. Zoe was facing her 'home alone' fears.

But on Friday the 13th, she celebrates her thirteenth birthday, and red-haired, teeth-in-braces, on-a-diet Zoe is about to encounter an African Gray parrot well versed in Swahili, the boy of her dreams, and the man of her worst nightmares.

My Review:
Talk about a disappointment! The characters in this teen fiction are not believable--they are flat--without dimension. The story has unexplained gaps and holes. Misuse of punctuation indicates the need for an editor.

It's been a while since I was young, but I cannot believe that children have changed as much as indicated by the protagonist in this story. When Zoe, just-turned-thirteen, first meets Toby, he brushes at a stain on the front of her shirt and comes "much too close to the 'bump' in [her] new training bra" (7). For some reason, this provokes a love attraction to him! Later, she puts her "head in his lap" (43). This turns into the occasion of her first kiss. She drinks beer (79-80). There are references to marijuana (66). Please tell me that this is not typical!

One of the main characters is an African Gray parrot named Paki. He not only talks, he has the ability to think, analyze, and reply with sarcastic comments in both English and Swahili. In one incident, he announces his own illness (39). In another, he pronounces the death of a crow (44). He detects marijuana (78). And of course, he solves the mystery!

There are several good points: Swahili words, police codes, landmarks in Pittsburgh, PA, and facts about Kenya are interwoven into the story. However, this is not enough to redeem the weak writing. This is one teen book I will not recommend.

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