A inspiring, yet heart rendering, story of illness, family and friendship that’s exactly what the novel Drums girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick is about. Steven is an ordinary twelve year old boy, and his life is fairly normal. He attends school, likes girls, loves playing drums, and is in a band. Yet at the same time his life is not totally normal. He the youngest and the smallest in the All-City-Jazz-Band he plays in, as a result he has been labeled with the name peasant. The girl he in loves with is oblivious to his very existence. Steven also has a four year old brother named Jeffrey. Like most pre adolescent boys Steven finds his four year old brother annoying. Jeffrey annoys Steven, embarrasses him in front of his friends and band mates and borrows his things including a pair of drum sticks autographed by Steven’s hero Carter Beauford
which Jeffrey uses in making the dangerous pie. Jeffrey loves his older brother and wants to be just like him and with him 24/7. Steven hates Jeffrey and wishes to be left alone. Suddenly one day Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, both Jeffrey’s, Steven’s and really everybody else’s life is turned inside out and upside down. Jeffrey’s mom is forced to quit her job to care for him. Jeffrey is being brought back and fourth from New York to Philadelphia Children’s Hospital where he is undergoing treatment. Steven has just been asked to perform in the spring concert, yet at the same time is forced to deal with his brother illness and the usual teenage stuff of school homework and girls. Jeffrey’s illness is hard on both of them but ends up drawing them closer than anyone could have imaged. Jeffrey undergoes chemotherapy and radiation treatment for his leukemia as a side effect he is constantly feeling ill and vomiting eventually his hair falls out which makes him subject to much teasing, name calling and harassment. Upon seeing this Steven decides to shave his head bald so they would be forced to make fun of him as well if they want to make fun of Jeffrey. Jeffrey illness and the suffering caused by it cause Jeffrey and Steven to bond and bring them closer than ever before. Steven finds himself spending more and more time with Jeffrey and even allows Jeffrey to play his drum.
Jeffrey goes through a lot but Steven also goes through a lot of torment and trouble too. Do to his brothers condition he is pulled out of the dance early, forced to move out of the house for a week when he comes down with a cold and eventually ends up going down to Philly to the children’s hospital and meets many others kids of all ages suffering from leukemia as well as a girl names Samantha who teaches him an important lesson on family. Unfortunately health care is not free and as you might have expected Jeffrey’s health care bills have been adding up not to mention the bills from weekly trips to Philly and co payments from doctors. Fortunately Jeffrey’s parents have health insurance, but their health insurance only covers so much and, their last names are not Rockefeller. To help raise money to cover the bills Steven is able to make the spring concert into a fund raiser for Jeffrey. I’m sure you want to know if Jeffrey lives or what happens. However, I’m not going to tell you that, you will just have to read the book for yourself to find out. I’ll tell you this though about the ending. It’s happy yet at the same time sad, tragic and heart rending and it drives home the meaning and importance of brothers and family as a whole. The novel Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie is a well written and serious coming of age story about one brother’s battle with leukemia and one brother struggle with himself. It also drives home an important message about the bond brother have and of family as a whole. Even though the book is very serious it is also very funny. The Author keeps you rooting for Jeffrey yet at the same time keeps you laughing throughout the book. If you startreading Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie you are not going to want to put it down and are probably going to end up crying at the end. (I Know I did).