Here's how much I loved Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, by Jordan Sonnenblick. I was resentful of having to stay up late wrapping presents on December 23rd, because I had started this book, and wanted to keep reading it, instead. Then I snuck away late on Christmas Eve to finish it. Plus I loved the title!
What do you do if you're a thirteen year old boy (Steven), passionate about the drums, struggling to relate to girls, and then your five year old pesky younger brother Jeffrey is diagnosed with cancer? Answer: you pass through numerous stages of denial and rebellion, before coming to terms with your place in the situation. I mean it as a huge compliment when I say that this book feels like it was written by a thirteen year old. Steven's voice is believable and consistent and achingly real.
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie brought tears to my eyes, but I found it funny, too. Quite a fine line, to make a book about a five year old with cancer funny, but Sonnenblick is up to the challenge. The book is also well-researched - it's clear that the author really talked with siblings of sick kids, not to mention cancer doctors. The stages that Steven goes through feel real (denial, the bargaining/take me phase, etc.).
Steven's family isn't perfect (especially his closed-off father), but his mother drops everything else in her life to become Steven's champion, as I know real mothers do when the situation (sadly) arises. Jeffrey is an amazing character, too. Annoying yet brave, whiny where any kid would be whiny, and head over heels crazy about his much older brother. This dynamic reminded me, a bit, of my relationship with my much younger brother and sister, and how they would decorate my room when I returned home from college, and beg to help me unpack. This book made me wish I had been a little nicer to them (though they were fortunately never ill).
I did find the introduction of Samantha, a sick girl whose older sister isn't there for her, a bit contrived. But everything else in the story rang true. I couldn't stop reading it, and read every word of the afterword section, too. I also liked Steven's relationship with two girls from his school, and his passion for the drums. The book is about those things, too, not just about the ailing Jeffrey. All in all, I highly recommend this book.
Book: Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie
Author: Jordan Sonnenblick
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Original Publication Date: October, 2004
Pages: 304 (paperback reprint edition)
Age Range: 12 and up
Source of Book: Bought it for myself, because I liked the title
Other Blog Reviews: Propernoun.net, VVMBookBlog, Grace's Ramblings, and A Book Look
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.