I recommend this book for: middle and high school
As a big fan of Sonnenblick's Notes from the Midnight Driver, I was excited to get my hands on his first novel. This one goes back to 8th grade, and features drummer Steven Alper, who is also a character in Notes. Steven has typical 8th grade problems until his little brother Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia and his world turns upside down. Steven has to face all of the emotions of having someone he loves face death, the ugly reality of the children's hospital, and the personal and financial consequences of his mother quitting her job to take care of Jeffrey. Without being sentimental, Sonnenblick portrays all of the despair, hope, and yes, thankfully, humor of Steven's year. Of course, there are other significant happenings in his life, such as getting noticed by the hottest girl in the class and getting chosen to play sweet drum solos in the school jazz band concert, not to mention the titular Dangerous Pie. Steven and Jeffrey are both characters you want to cheer for, and although this book isn't as hilarious/devastating/hopeful as Notes, it's a great read that's fast because you can't put it down.