Monday, October 24, 2016

I Am Drums by Mike Grosso, 2016

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Sam knows she wants to be a drummer. But she doesn’t know how to afford a drum kit, or why budget cuts end her school’s music program, or why her parents argue so much, or even how to explain her dream to other people.

But drums sound all the time in Sam’s head, and she’d do just about anything to play them out loud—even lie to her family if she has to. Will the cost of chasing her dream be too high?

(256 pages)

I never really thought of drums as a guys-only instrument. Maybe that's because the only other character I've ever read about who plays the drums is Amanda in Wendy Mass's amazing Willow Falls series. It never really occurred to me that Amanda was doing something unusual by playing the drums, and I still don't really think she was. So in the first few chapters, when Sam kept thinking about how unusual she was for being a girl who played drums and about how offbeat her passion for music was, I was a little puzzled.

Luckily, the entire book doesn't consist of Grosso creating a faux-gender roles situation and then overcoming it. Instead, the book quickly moves to becoming a story about one girl's desperation to do the one thing that makes her happy. Sam goes through a huge amount of work to get her drum lessons, you've got to admire her devotion to drumming. I loved the character of her drum teacher (whom I can't name for fear of spoilers!)–he/she had just the right amount of passion, kindness, and grumpiness to make a realistic yet lovable mentor. As for Sam's parents . . . yeah. I don't really want to talk about them, because her father is so unkind to her that I can't stand him.

Though, now that I think about it, Sam could have pushed her parents a little harder on the drum issue before sneaking around behind their backs. As far as I can tell, she asked her father a grand total of two times (both when she could already tell he was in a bad mood), and immediately wilted when he snapped at her. Plus, why was it always her father that she asked? Considering the fact that Sam's mom was the one really bringing in a paycheck, you'd think she'd be the one getting the final say over whether her daughter could pursue a new hobby. For the majority of the book, she has a very wallflower-like presence in Sam's life. It's never specifically stated in these terms, but I think Sam's dad is sexist. This could also explain why it was so firmly ingrained into her head that playing the drums was a masculine activity (and thus not something she was really supposed to enjoy)–her dad could have put some weird ideas about gender roles into her head.

That's my two cents, anyway. I did enjoy I Am Drums, even though I wanted to smack almost every main character at least once. It's an interesting novel, full of a variety of important themes. I don't know that it is very memorable, though–a year from now, it will probably have faded into my memory, woven in with all the other books I've read which feature misunderstood pre-adolescent girls with special abilities and unhappy parents. I enjoyed it while it lasted, though, and you could too. If you've read I Am Drums, comment below to let us know what you thought of it!

Disclaimer: I won a complimentary ARC of this novel, which was provided by the author, in a giveaway on Tweens Read Too.

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