When I was growing up, I thought my little brothers were the most annoying things in the world. That's how Steven feels about his little brother Jeffery in Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. That annoying little brother, however, is diagnosed with leukemia, and suddenly Steven's world changes forever. Where before Steven's greatest concerns revolved around talking to pretty girls and making it big as a drummer, he now navigates hospital wings and life with a critically sick family member. In Jordan Sonnenblick's sequel, After Ever After, the reader gets a continuation of the story but from Jeffrey's perspective years down the road. After Ever After shows how the repercussions of cancer and chemotherapy can impact a survivor years later.
Sonnenblick makes Steven and Jeffery both extremely relatable. Even while they struggled with conflicts exceeding the norm for middle schoolers, they still also struggled with conflicts involving math, girls, and things very much a part of the middle school experience. In After Ever After, Jeffery faces a situation where he is talking about a pretty girl to a friend online, and that girl can read every word of the conversation reflected in a window.
I also love how the author chose to write the sequel from Jeffery's point of view later in life, instead of from his point of view during Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. Even though both books deal with cancer and cancer's repurcussions, the books also show how much love Steven and Jeffery have for one another. I think both brothers would do pretty much anything if it would keep the other happy and healthy. At one point, the most beautiful girl at Steven's school comes to help him with math, and he has to make the very difficult decision to tell her to go home because she has a cold and Jeffery can't be exposed to germs.
Jordan Sonnenblick seamlessly weaves serious with comic, drama with routine. Once I started reading Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, I just couldn't put it down and the same happened with After Ever After!