Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie Summary

Jordan Sonnenblick

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

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Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie Summary

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Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie is a beautifully written novel about dealing with perilous circumstances and how to grow from adversity. The narrative centers around an eighth grader named Steven who, while dealing with his band and love of two different girls, is faced with dealing with his younger brother’s sickness and the devastation this sickness renders on his family life. Through the course of the novel, Steven must reevaluate what he finds important in his life. In doing so, he attempts to make the connections in his life more meaningful and personal despite the pain around him.

Steven Alper is an eighth-grade boy with girls and music on his mind. Steven is the drummer for the All-City Jazz band, which has nicknamed him “the Peasant.” Steven also journals, and is generally known as a wisecrack by friends. Though he is constantly annoyed by his younger brother, five-year-old Jeffrey, he takes solace in his crush on Renee Albert, a beautiful girl who does not even know how he feels (or that he is alive, according to Steven). He also has the usual family strains of a growing boy, but school life takes center stage for Steven.

Steven’s life of unrequited love and playing drums is soon changed, however, when on October 7, his brother Jeffrey falls and has a nosebleed. The problem is that Jeffrey’s nose does not stop bleeding, and after taking him to the hospital, the family is informed that Jeffrey has been diagnosed with leukemia. With this watershed revelation, the family is soon thrown into an uproar as every member tries to accept and cope with the illness, including its direct results on their family unit.

For Steven, his world involves trying to ensure that no one from school finds out about his brother’s illness. Steven is not heartless. What he is, however, is a boy who is faced with a reality he neither chose nor knows what to do with. With a realness that highlights the effects and treatment of leukemia, Steven highlights his brother’s ordeal of being treated for the disease, including the gut-wrenching bits, such as vomiting, chemo treatments and days upon days of painful realities for all involved.

As Jeffrey deals with the chemotherapy treatments for his leukemia, Steven’s family unit withers, and Steven is left with a sense of being practically forgotten. His mother is a school teacher, and she takes a leave of absence to deal with Jeffrey’s illness. All her time is subsequently spent dealing with Jeffrey’s chemotherapy treatments. Meanwhile, Steven’s father retreats into himself. He occasionally resurfaces to complain about all the medical bills that have amassed from Jeffrey’s illness. Though a smart kid, Steven eventually stops doing his homework and immerses himself in his drumming to cope with the devastation of Jeffrey’s disease. He also finds himself beginning to feel something for another girl, Annette, who plays the piano in his band.

When Steven is eventually able to divorce himself from self-pity and see that his brother and his family need him to keep the family unit strong, his life becomes richer with his new outlook. Instances of growth, such as seeing Annette as beautiful where once he only had eyes for Renee, highlight Steven’s growth as a character. His earlier character traits of wisecracking and finding his younger brother annoying morph into understanding and love.

Ultimately, Steven shows by the end of the novel that life may indeed present one with troubling, even heartbreaking circumstances like illness, but at the end of the day, the important things in life revolve around love and picking oneself back up. Steven shows how one can grow into a better human being despite the adversity. Instead of remaining immature or wallowing in self-pity, Steven rises to the challenge and helps his family strengthen as a unit. Sonnenblick’s novel is a lesson in growing pains and how, despite how hard one believes trials to be, life can and will go in.