Steven is a gifted junior high school drummer with an imagination that takes him some distance from his writing assignments into musing on his own life. The book chronicles his experience of the year his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, was diagnosed with leukemia. The shift from consuming preoccupation with preparation for a drumming contest and competition for a particular girl's attention to radical concern about a brother he has primarily regarded as a pest takes him through ruminations both profound and hilarious.

Jeffrey's illness oddly makes Steven an object of his friends' admiration and pity, neither of which he thinks he wants or deserves. His priorities and plans begin to take a back seat to working with his parents to get Jeffrey through treatments, in the course of which he meets a girl at the hospital who teaches him a new level of friendship before her own disease gets the better of her and she dies. The story ends with Jeffrey's return home, an uncertain future, and an altered perspective on life for Steven who finds himself able to love in ways he hadn't imagined.


Lively, upbeat, realistic, and moving, this story is a remarkable first novel for young adults. The protagonist-narrator's own wry sense of humor, his articulate ambivalence about his own social skills, his passion for music, and his complicated love for and impatience with his family provide a complex and useful look at how serious illness invades and changes ordinary life in ways that demand all the resources one has developed for self-awareness and adaptation. A good and highly discussable read, especially for siblings of sick children.


DayBue Publishing

Place Published

Sun Valley, Idaho



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