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#34 Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

Steven is a thirteen-year-old who spends his days spacing out in class, drooling over the prettiest girl in his grade, and drumming whenever he gets the spare chance. Then his younger brother, Jeffrey, is diagnosed with Leukemia. His mother quits her job to be able to take Jeffrey to all of his appointments, and his normally attentive father shuts down emotionally. As Jeffrey begins his treatments, Steven finds himself constantly pushed to back burner of his parents' attention, and the medical bills begin to build up. Steven has always taken care of his little brother, but how can he when everything seems so out of control?

Typically when I think about fictional stories about cancer, I think of weepy lifetime movies or corny novels that tend to romanticize the illness, and the patient. But in the past year I’ve read three novels that have tackled the issue with integrity: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and now Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie. Much like Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie is a very well balanced book. The novel deals with many of the tragic results of cancer, but there’s a surprising amount of humor to be found as well. The greatest strength in the novel is in how well the author captures the reality of what it’s like to be a thirteen-year-old boy. Steven has a great voice, with a great sense of humor. At the same time, he is no martyr and has his moments of selfishness and sulkiness. I found him to be a very relatable character and the main reason behind why I enjoyed this book so much. I enjoyed the secondary cast as well. There were characters that at first felt rather two dimensional  to me, but as the book continued, they grew in ways that pushed beyond these stereotypes.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie is one of those tricky books that straddles the line between middle grade and young adult fiction (which isn’t a big deal until you’re a librarian that has to shelve it). Although I feel it ultimately comes down on the middle grade side of the occasion, I feel that it could be enjoyed by young adult readers just as much. I chose to experience the novel as an audiobook and felt that the narrator Joel Johnstone did a really good job, especially when it came to playing many of the younger characters like Steven and Jeffrey. Oftentimes, it’s very awkward for an adult narrator to voice children, but Joel gives his performance an appropriate amount of youthful energy.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie is a good example of a novel tackling a sensitive issue in a respectful way. Although it has it’s moments when it can seem a little cheesy, I found that I didn’t mind because it was almost as if the book earned those moments. This is my first book by Jordan Sonnenblick but I will certainly be reading more by him.

Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 273 pages
Source: Lewiston Public Library
Other books I've read by this author: this is my first

Next I will be reviewing Beggars and Choosers by Nancy Kress

xposted to temporaryworlds, bookish, and goodreads
Tags: xxx author last name: r-z
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