February 05, 2014

Blues for Zoey: Blog Tour stop

by Robert Paul Weston
Razorbill
978-0-14-318328-0
272 pp.
Ages 13+
For release February 2014

Although the title of this book is Blues for Zoey, the reader would be hard-pressed not to sing the blues for sixteen-year-old Kaz whose life is filled with responsibilities and worries.  Though his family once lived comfortably in Rosemount, the death of Kaz's dad and his mother's illness has the family now living above the Sit N' Spin laundromat and dry cleaners where Kaz works for Mr. Rodolfo.  Mom suffers from somnitis, a disorder which causes her to fall asleep at anytime and for days, and she can no longer perform as an orchestral musician.  Between taking care of his eight-year-old sister Nomi, worrying about his mother, saving frantically so he can take her to an expensive treatment facility in New York City, working, and going to school, Kaz has little time for socializing.  But when Calen, his only Rosemount friend to stick by him, asks Kaz to join him and his girlfriend Alana at the big summer party of rich boy Topher Briggs, it's the beginning of something new.

Though Kaz's former girlfriend Becky is now going out with the pompous Topher, and Kaz is looking to grab the attention of the beautiful Christina Muniez, it's the girl with the blond dreadlocks who makes the biggest impression.  Kaz has spotted Zoey Zamani several times on the street near Dave Mizra's jewelry store, carrying a large cross-shaped structure which Kaz learns is a musical instrument she created and calls a rood.  When he hears her play it and sing the obscure music of Shain Cope (a curiously talented but tragic musician), Kaz is hooked.

But Kaz is soon burdened with more concerns. First, as he tries to get to know Zoey, he suspects a very dangerous situation with her father.  Then, Kaz starts watching and spying on his boss Mr. Rodolfo who Zoey suspects of being involved in illegal activities like gambling and laundering money.  Finally, amongst the various characters Kaz knows in the community of Evandale, two homeless veterans, A-Man and B-Man, draw Kaz's attention with regards to their enigmatic interactions with  Mr. Rodolfo, especially after B-Man disappears. 

A more welcome situation has Kaz scrambling to do the right thing after a producer shooting a TV pilot around Evandale spots Zoey's rood hidden at the Sit N' Spin and recognizes it as an instrument made by Shain Cope and stolen after his death.  His offer to buy it has Kaz contemplating the money he could make for his mother's treatment and his relationship with Zoey.

Though Robert Paul Weston's Blues for Zoey is a complete departure from his fantastic stories of Zorgamazoo (Razorbill, 2008), Dust City (Puffin, 2010), Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff (Puffin, 2013) and The Creature Department (Razorbill, 2013), his characteristically detailed plotting is still evident.  To young adult readers, the subplots and secondary characters may appear to be simple add-ons but they do so much more than just add flavour, never revealed until those "aha" moments closer to the story's conclusion.  Never overlook the inclusion of any story element in Robert Paul Weston's books.  He doesn't do filler.  Others might need more words to fully elaborate on criss-crossing story-lines but never Robert Paul Weston.  I was convinced I knew where the story was going, and appreciated where it was heading, until that one piece of information dropped into the text.  Then those story-lines sorted themselves out, again, and Blues for Zoey transformed from a story about a teen with worries and smitten with a girl to a teen with worries and still smitten with a girl. You'll see the difference when you read Blues for Zoey and recognize that Robert Paul Weston has found a new avenue for his writing, drawing older teens in now too.  Fortunate readers, I'd say.

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Check out my interview with Robert Paul Weston soon in which he shares some details about Blues for Zoey and this new writing venture.

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