A good book will make you feel something — sometimes happiness, sometimes sadness. A great book will make you experience all emotions! This is an amazing book that is full of “feels”, and it was hard to not read it in one sitting.
Steven Alper is a 13-year-old boy who is interested in drums and girls. He never expected his younger brother Jeffrey would get cancer, but when he does, Steven must figure out how to cope with the impact of his brother’s illness on his life. Sonnenblick wrote Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie from Steven’s point of view, so the reader is privy to all of his thoughts and feelings.
This novel is truly special because it doesn’t sugar coat any of Steven’s thoughts or actions. Life is messy and ugly sometimes, and we don’t always act like heroes, and Sonnenblick makes Steven and his family very real and flawed human beings. Sometimes Steven is mad that his parents only seem to think and care about Jeffrey, and then we experience his guilt at wanting any attention while his brother is fighting for his life. And through it all, we live with him struggling to carry on with school, figure out girls, and work so hard to be an amazing drummer. Sonnenblick will have you crying one moment, and laughing out loud in the next sentence. While I definitely needed tissues throughout the story, I also laughed out loud. The combination of emotions made this book a pleasure to read.
This novel reminds us that life carries on, no matter what devastating things happen to us, and “instead of agonizing about the things you can’t change, why don’t you try working on the things you CAN change?” (p. 184) Ultimately, Steven figures out that “your mind is something you always CAN change.” (p. 242)