Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

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Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie
Author Jordan Sonnenblick
Language English (reading)
Genre Young Adult Fiction
Pages 273
Followed by After Ever After

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie is a book aimed at children and young teenagers, and was the 2004 debut novel from author Jordan Sonnenblick,[1] originally published by DayBlue Insights[2] and later by Scholastic. Publishers Weekly described it as "insightful".[1]

Sonnenblick, an English teacher and former student of author Frank McCourt, was inspired to write the novel by the real-life story of one of his own students.[3]


The protagonist of the book is Steven Alper, a 13-year-old boy living in Pennsylvania. One day after a really bad nose bleed and a trip to the emergency room for his younger brother Jeffrey, the Alpers are shocked to discover that Jeffrey has leukemia.[5] Everyone in Steven's family is dumbfounded and his father is very anti-social with Steven when Jeffrey goes for his chemotherapy treatments. Steven becomes very shelled in, but no one can really tell, except for a piano-prodigy, Annette Watson. Annette clearly has a crush on Steven, but he doesn't know. No sicknesses can be near Jeffrey and when Steven is hit with the flu, he must stay with his grandparents.

When Steven first finds out about the illness, he doesn't let anyone know until his teachers crack down on him after he doesn't do his work. His guidance counselor is a big help throughout the story. He finally comes clean and becomes popular and gets attention from everyone, including the girl of his dreams, Renee Albert. At one point, Steven's mom becomes sick, so Steven and his father have to take Jeffrey to his treatment. There he meets Sam, a girl with leukemia. Steven has his practice pad with him and teaches her how to play, also lending her his drum sticks. She later dies, leaving a note with the drumsticks. After failing his math final, because he turned away his tutor (Renee) because she had a cold, and he didn't want to expose Jeffrey, Steven is given valuable advice from the school counselor, "Instead of agonizing about the things you can't change, why don't you try working on the things you can change?" Annette is a piano prodigy, and is in deep rehearsal for a program at Juilliard in Manhattan, until she falls down the stairs, breaking her arm in three places. Then, in his All-City band, the high-schoolers have to quit so they can do community services, Renee and Annette think of a way to bring the service into the band. They decide that their spring concert can be a benefit concert for the Alper's. At the concert, the band has shaved their heads in honor of Jeffrey. However, right before Steven's big solo that night, Jeffrey gets sick, and Steven takes the advice from the girl he's only seen once, and goes with Jeffrey to the hospital, and he was diagnosed with an ear infection. When at the hospital, he decides to check on Sam, and learned she has died. The only thing left are his drumsticks, which he had lent to her in Chapter 17, "A Men's Journey". At the end of the story, it is stated that Annette and Steven are in love and Jeffrey is in remission.


Steven Alper – Steven is the protagonist, a drummer and an eighth grader. Steven has a sense of sarcasm, humor and is highly annoyed by his little brother at the beginning of the story. He feels he is neglected at most parts, he has a crush on Renee Albert as well as a friendship with Annette. Steven is a really good student and has a normal life but when his little brother Jeffrey is diagnosed with cancer everything changes.

Jeffrey Alper – Jeffrey, or 'Jeffy' is Steven's little brother who is diagnosed with ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Jeffy is described by Steven as being 'too cute.' Jeffrey is a really adorable 5 year old as said in the book with blond hair (which he loses). He looks up to Steven and adores him.

Annette Watson – Annette is a smart friend of Steven's and sometimes watches Jeffy. She has an unknown crush on Steven, but sees that he likes Renee, and is sad, but not hopeless. Steven was tutored by her when he was failing his classes. She later teams up with Renee to help raise money for Jeffrey at their spring concert. Finally, Steven sees that he likes her as well because he begins to fall in love with her.

Renee Albert – Renee is a cheerleader and math whiz. She is the object of most guys' affections. Steven, though decides that Renee does not pay attention to him for the right reasons, so ends up liking Annette. In the end she and Annette come together to help Steven's brother.

Mr. Watras – Steven's music teacher of the All-City Jazz band. He is Steven's favorite teacher and his mentor.

Miss Palma – Steven's English teacher. She is the teacher that gives Steven the journal assignments, in which Steven talks about his brother.

Mrs. Galley – Steven's guidance counselor at his school. Steven talks to her a lot about his problems, mainly about Jeffrey having cancer and about a dream that he starts having that Jeffrey dies in the winter as Steven throws varying objects at him. She also rewards Steven for talking by giving him candy hearts.

Samantha – Steven's friend he meets at the hospital who also has leukemia. She ends up dying with her mom by her side but without her sister. She leaves Steven with the advice to stay with his brother every time he needs him.

Mrs. Alper – Steven's mother; she is caring and loving to both of the children. When she finds out that Jeffrey has cancer she has to be in and out of Philadelphia with Jeffrey and leave behind Steven and her husband. She gets very upset and is very timid throughout the book.

Mr. Alper – Mr. Alper is the dad of the 2 boys. It also gets really difficult when Jeffrey gets cancer because he has to pay all of the bills. Whenever his wife calls from Philadelphia he just can't tell Steven the news about Jeffrey. When they found out that Jeffrey had cancer he would not say a word to Steven, but at the end he does and has an emotional heart touching moment with Steven.

Mr. Stoll – Steven's drum instructor. After a financial problem with hospital bills, Mr. Stoll lets Steven have drum lessons for free.

Biff – A guitar player in the All-City Jazz band, and is also Renee Albert's boyfriend.


Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie is followed by After Ever After.


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