Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

August 1, 2014
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Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie is a young adult novel written by Jordan Sonnenblick. This book follows the life of Steven Alper, an 8th grade boy with an annoying little brother, Jeffrey. Steven is a percussionist, and spends most of his time playing his drums in the basement. But one morning, after being interrupted from a brief pre-school drumming session by five-year-old Jeffrey, he is forced to revaluate his roles as a brother, friend, student, and drummer.

When what should have been a small nosebleed turns into an Emergency Room visit, the Alpers find out that little Jeffrey has fallen victim of cancer; specifically, ALL, or acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This sudden news brings worries for Jeffrey and the Alpers' financial situation, who have no chance of affording the extensive medical bills when Steven and Jeffrey's mom is forced to quit her job as an English teacher to care after Jeffrey.

At first, Steven does not know how to handle his situation. He pours himself into playing drums, neglecting his schoolwork and ignoring the looming problem of his brother's illness. He falls behind greatly, and his teachers are finally let in on Jeffrey's cancer situation after an intervention is staged. As a result, he receives make-up work, and forms a connection to the guidance counselor.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey is starting to lose his previously angelic blond curls, but still begs Steven to play with him. Steven is relied on to step up his game as the perfect older brother, and he has big shoes to fill. Steven realizes after a trip to the hospital with his brother that Jeffrey is exceedingly brave and needs as much support as he can get, especially after talking to a girl his age who used to look up to her older sister a great deal.

Throughout the book, Steven struggles in finding his place. While he has a major role as Jeffrey's older brother, he still feels helpless. However, he reaches the conclusion that even the little things mean a lot after his guidance counselor says “Why don't you try working on the things you CAN change?” (Sonnenblick 184). From then on, Steven discovers that he isn't helpless; when Jeffrey gets upset about being bald, Steven shaves his head, and when he realizes his family really can't afford his drumming lessons, he's prepared to drop them to save money.

Despite all the drama, Steven still relies on his drumming abilities as an outlet. He's a member of the high school's All-City High School Jazz Band, and dedicates himself to his role. When it looks like many of the members will have to drop out of the band right before their big concert, Steven's two friends, Renee and Annette, step in with a brilliant idea; instead of a regular concert, it could be a fund-raiser for the Alpers to assist in paying off Jeffrey's medical bills. At first, Steven's parents are shaky on the idea, but they let it go on. The night of the concert thrown in Jeffrey's honor, the band reveals they all shaved their heads or got a short haircut in support of Jeffrey's leukemia, and it goes amazingly until intermission. Jeffrey throws up, and it is discovered that he has a fever. After being begged to come along, Steven has to leave midway through his concert. It turns out Jeffrey had an ear infection and everything would be okay, as well as that the concert had raised $23,489.17 total for the Alpers.

DG&DP ends with Steven graduating, and a small, hopeful hint that Jeffrey is becoming well again. Overall, I thought the book had a very strong voice, plot, and was very thought-provoking. It was the type of book that makes you feel as though you just lived with the characters and experienced what they had. I would recommend it to anyone in high school, middle school, and intermediate school. DG&DP is also followed by a sequel from the eyes of an older Jeffrey titled After Ever After. Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie blends tragedy with unexpected bits of humor, while still relaying a clear message: life goes on.

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basher said...
Sept. 22, 2014 at 10:43 pm
This Is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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