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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
With a name like Drummond, you would expect a very musical percussionist, especially when the name is often shortened to Drum or even Drummy! Middle school student Drummond wasn’t so sure at first. He enjoyed playing the drums, but he wasn’t sure he was that good. But when asked to start lessons and prepare to join the school’s marching band, Drummond is willing to give it a try. With the help of his teacher and other members of the band, Drummond gains confidence in his music and finds a deeper sense of peace and belonging that he never experienced before. Music can have that effect on you; certainly, the cohesive nature of performing music as a group makes you feel vitally alive and part of the intensity of the sounds. It also allows you a safe haven in which to hibernate, to escape the unfortunate events in your life that you might want to forget, even if for just a short period of time. With an unsettled home life, Drummond desperately needed this escape.
Patrick R.F. Blakley’s middle-grade novel, Drummond, is a compassionate look at the power of music to strengthen an unhappy, unsettled soul. The author chose the uneasy era of early teen years to set the stage. He aptly describes each character and places them in their own roles of figuring out their place in this complex world. Drummond is a very astute teenager, but he’s always second-guessing his decisions as well as those around him. Through music, Drummond is able to find himself and understand and face the sadness around him that threatens to consume him. It’s a simple story about coming of age, dealing with conflicts, and making difficult decisions, all while trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in the world around you. This will appeal to the middle-grade reader and perhaps will help them confront similar issues of insecurity and lack of purpose. I love how the author, obviously a musician himself, weaves in the magic of music – it really is a healing balm.