With his cancer having been in remission for five years, Jeffrey enters the eighth grade assuming it’ll be like any other year for him and his best friend Tad, also a cancer survivor. Though his older brother, Stephen, who has always been his hero is off traveling around Africa, everything else seems like it’ll be more of the same: dealing with learning difficulties caused by his cancer treatment, hanging out with the bitingly sarcastic Tad and training for a bike ride he does to benefit cancer research every year.
Enter Lindsey, a new girl from California, who arrives at Jeff’s school and proceeds to begin turning his world upside down. Then add an impossible new testing requirement that Jeff has to pass to make it to high school and Tad’s sudden determination to walk across the stage at graduation (he’s been in a wheelchair for several years) and you’ve got all the makings of one crazy year for Jeff.
A lot is packed into this sequel to 2005’s Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. Luckily, the author has created a sympathetic, thoughtful, realistic narrator and has filled this work of contemporary fiction with plenty of authentic dialogue. No doubt, there is real sadness here, the kind that leaves you thinking about the story long after it’s ended, but it’s balanced with humor and silliness that creates a life-like picture of the turbulence many people affected by a serious illness experience.
-Brooke, McArthur Teen Librarian