Jeffrey Alper, now in eighth grade, narrates this intense sequel to Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. He is cancer-free now, but leukemia treatment left Jeffrey with a limp and a brain that is "a little scrambled up." When he learns he will be held back unless he passes a statewide standardized test, Jeffrey panics, then agrees to let Tad, his best friend and fellow cancer survivor, tutor him. But Jeffrey fails the practice test and is dealing with other stresses: his older brother-always his biggest supporter-is unreachable in Africa, his girlfriend won't see him until after the test, and Tad is suddenly missing a lot of school. Jeffrey's honest, humorous narration acts as a counterbalance to the subject matter (when Tad asks if he ever dreamed of doing "something completely magnificent," Jeffrey answers, "Dude, mostly I just hope I won't forget to zip my pants in the morning"). Even so, this book is packed with emotional highs and lows, and readers will understand the toll cancer takes on victims and everyone around them-even after it is gone. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
*Starred Review* Sonnenblick's Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (2005) told the story of eighth-grader Steven Alper, whose five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, is diagnosed with leukemia. Here, Jeffrey is in the eighth grade himself and takes the limelight. His cancer has gone into remission, but that's not the end of it. Treatment is nothing compared to what happens after you've been cured.' . . . Being a cancer survivor can be a life sentence all its own. Jeffrey, as well as his best friend, fellow survivor, and devilishly dark humorist, Tad, have all kinds of brain and nerve damage from the intense chemotherapy and radiation, leaving Tad in a wheelchair and Jeffrey with serious concentration problems. But he mostly sweats the smaller stuff: fear of being held back a grade if he fails an impending standardized test; a brother who seems to have abandoned him at the worst possible time; strife at home that he sees as his fault; and, most terrifying, a cute girl who actually likes him. Switching gears back and forth between huge, heavy issues and universal adolescent concerns, Sonnenblick imbues Jeffrey with a smooth, likable, and unaffected voice. Most of all, he recognizes that humor and heart aren't ways to lighten a story they're there to deliver it. As hilarious as it is tragic, and as honest as it is hopeful, don't confuse this book with inspirational reading. It's irresistible reading.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist
Gr 6-9-Sonnenblick's Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie (Turning Tide, 2004) told the story of eighth-grader Steven Alper and his struggle to deal with his four-year-old brother's leukemia diagnosis amid the normal drama of being a teen. This sequel is told from Jeffrey's point of view. Now Jeff is in eighth grade and just as he's getting his first girlfriend, wondering why his best friend and fellow cancer survivor is acting so weird, and trying to cope with some post-cancer disabilities, Steven, his rock, has dropped out of college and gone to join a drumming circle-in Africa! In a year of emotional and physical challenges, heartache, humor, and love, Jeffrey learns to depend on himself and live life to the fullest. Sonnenblick's intimate first-person tale of survival is a solid stand-alone novel that will leave an emotional, uplifting imprint on readers.-Terri Clark, Smoky Hill Library, Centennial, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.