Drums, Girls, And Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick has been sitting in my to-read pile for about 3 months now. I’m not sure what inspired me to pick it up today, but I am so glad that I did. I spent the last 2 hours reading and crying, feverishly wiping tears off my face so no one around me would notice. Sonnenblick has written an extremely powerful book that every student should read.
Steven is your average 8th grader- he can’t talk to girls to save his life, the girl he loves has no idea he exists, and his little brother, Jeffrey, tends to annoy him more than anything else. Steven’s greatest love in life are his drums and practice pads. He is a gifted drummer who is lucky enough to be in the All-City Jazz Band. In fact, he and his friend Annette are the only 8th graders in the whole city who are selected for the All-City Jazz Band. Steven spends all of his free time at school and at home practicing his songs and preparing for the city-wide concert later that year. Music is his thing and the concert is his one moment to shine.
One morning, Steven decides to be the good big brother and make Jeffrey “moatmeal” (translation: oatmeal) so that Jeffrey doesn’t wake their parents up. As Steven grabs the oatmeal from the cabinet, he leaves 5 year old Jeffrey on the kitchen stool, a big no-no in his over-protective mom’s eyes. Steven thinks his mom is a little too overprotective, and really, what can happen in 5 seconds? But while he has his back turned, Jeffrey falls off the stool and his nose begins to bleed. When their parents rush downstairs after hearing Jeffrey’s cries, they are unable to stop the bleeding. From that moment on, Steven’s life is turned upside down.
Jeffrey’s illness becomes the focal point of Steven and his family’s life. Steven struggles with being an 8th grade kid and the older brother of a very sick little boy. Steven is such a real character- I felt like I knew him and almost like I would be him if I was in the same situation. While Jeffrey’s illness is the most important aspect of the family’s life, it is not always the most important part of Steven’s life. This is a struggle for him. How normal can you be when your life at home is anything but normal? Sonnenblick handles the storyline with a deftness I did not expect. I laughed out loud while tears ran down my cheeks at many points. I am very seriously considering this as my next class read-aloud, despite the fact that I know I will cry through a great deal of it.