Dear Jordan Sonnenblick:
Thank you for this gift of a book. I loved DRUMS, GIRLS, AND DANGEROUS PIE and must admit to some reluctance to read a companion novel. You know the old wisdom about sequels, I am sure. However, it was lovely to meet some of my favorite characters from DGADP all grown up and to be introduced to some new ones as well.
It has been a long haul for Jeffrey. He has been in remission from leukemia for some time. What a lot of people do not know, though, are the after effects of the toxic drugs that, while they kill cancer, are sometimes indiscriminate in the other cells they destroy and damage. So taking toxins to cure one disease can leave someone like Jeffrey with some other obstacles including a bit of a learning difficulty when it comes to math.
How wonderful it was to pick up this book on the first day of our statewide torture also known as the TAKS test week. A time met with sick stomachs by even some of hte most stoic of our students who are being exhorted to score that perfect score, do better, be above average or face. the. consequences. It is not sufficient that Jeffrey has to deal with his own challenges, now there is a new one: he might not go to high school unless he passes the new state tests.
AFTER EVER AFTER handles with aplomb so many topics and issues. Ones from the mundane and almost predictable: friendship, budding attraction to the opposite sex, parents who are, well, parents. But also issues and topics that are not so every day: dealing with death and dying, wrestling with learning and physical challenges. And to do this without being preachy??? How do you do that?
Thanks for letting me see Jeffrey (and even his older bro, Steven, off stage) again. Thanks for reminding me that not only do characters live on after the book ends, people live on after remission. Some face cancer again, some do not. No one gets a happily ever after guarantee. No one knows that more than Jeffey and kids (and adults) like him.
Thanks for making me laugh and cry (unashamedly) and rail against the state testing system with Jeffrey. I enjoyed the visit.