Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

Front CoverI'm not sure everyone will enjoy this book as much as I, but I gave it a rating of five out of five. Steven is in the eighth grade and can't think of a topic for his journal entry entitled "The Most Annoying Thing in the World". He decides to write about his five-year-old brother and all of the things about him that are annoying. However, the journal entry takes an unexpected twist when Steven reveals that Jeffy has been diagnosed with leukemia. Most of the plot deals with Steven's internal battle with the conflicting feelings that are racing through him. He's sad that Jeffy has this disease that may kill him, but Steven gets angry when his parents focus all of their attention on Jeffy. Then, Steven gets angry with himself for feeling jealous of his brother. Throw in the normal eighth grade problems of getting good grades, having a crush on the hottest girl in school, and dealing with friends, and Steven's life is spinning out of control. He wants to appear like he's keeping things together, so no one really understands just how messed up he's feeling inside. Steven is able to find a safe place where he can escape when he heads to the basement to play his drums.

This plot focuses an character, so it won't appeal to readers looking for action. The author does a wonderful job of expressing Steven's feelings, and they're realistic. It's easy to feel jealous when your brother is getting all of the attention, even if it's because he has a deadly disease, but then it's equally easy to feel guilty about those feelings. The book contains some light-hearted moments, and they usually come from Jeffy. His dangerous pie, his embarrassing comments to Steven, and his innocence throughout the ordeal help to ease some of the tension. The book has the common plot situation where the boy has eyes on a popular girl, but his close friend, a girl, has the same feelings about him.

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