The Drums are what 13-year-old Steven plays in the marching band and jazz group in school and are the only thing that makes him feel good when his life starts to unravel.
The Girls are Renee Albert, the hot cheerleader, guitarist, and neighbor who Steven wishes would notice he was alive, and Annette Watson, a pianist and friend of Steven’s who occasionally watches his younger brother Jeffrey on weekends.
Dangerous Pie is lovingly made by 5-year-old Jeffrey, using a deep pot and Steven’s special autographed drumsticks to stir the batter, which is “a zesty blend of coffee grounds, raw eggs and their smashed shells, Coke, uncooked bacon, and three Matchbox racing cars.”
Steven is a very typical 13-year-old boy. His younger brother is a little terror, his parents are annoying, he hates math, and he has a crush on the hottest girl in school. When Jeffrey has a nosebleed that doesn’t want to stop, Steven’s life is suddenly turned upside down when he learns his little brother has leukemia. Now it’s all about Jeffrey and Steven seems to have been forgotten. He must handle the situation the best way he can. Thanks to help from his teachers, his friends, and his family he copes, he changes, and his pesky little brother isn’t so annoying any more.
I was a little hesitant about listening to this story, thinking it would be way too depressing and sentimental. It was actually the perfect story to listen to on the long drive to my mom’s house. It made me laugh and made me cry, a perfect balance of humor and drama. Joel Johnstone did an outstanding job narrating, making each of the characters’ voices distinctive and engaging. I was especially impressed with the female characters. Some male narrators seem to try too hard getting women’s voices just right, that they fail completely. Even little Jeffrey’s voice made me smile.
The characters were all very believable and easy to relate to. While some situations were a little predictable, Steven kept me thoroughly entertained as he talked about his life in school, his friends, his brother’s illness, his parents, and the physical, emotional, and financial hardships associated with cancer.
It’s funny and moving, and you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it.