10 Stories Up Review - Drummer Girl

Reviewed by: Lindsay Carmichael

Sid's not exactly prom queen material. She loves woodshop, considers baggy jeans and band T-shirts the height of fashion, and would rather be friends with guys than waste time talking about girly stuff. In the eyes of her glamorous cousin Heather, Sid's the ultimate ugly duckling.

But Sid doesn't care, because she knows who she is - a drummer girl. Drummer girls, however, need bands, and there's only one at Sid's high school. It's composed of the most popular - and powerful - guys at school. When they tell Sid she'll have to change her image just to be considered, she knows what she has to do. But when she asks Heather to turn her from a duckling to a swan, Sid has no idea how enormous - and catastrophic - the consequences will be.

High school is a time for figuring out who you are, and how far you'll go to get the things you want. Drummer Girl encapsulates that struggle. As Sid grapples (in some cases literally) with the more serious outcomes of her makeover, she realizes just how much of herself she's compromised to meet someone else's ideal. She emerges from her journey scarred, but stronger.

Sid's choices put her in dangerous situations, and there are a few moments in the later part of the book that struck me as more about the problem than about Sid as an individual. However, Bass does a great job of constructing Sid's world, showing us her background, her life, and her complex relationships with other characters. Since I grew up in the time of After School Specials, I suspect my impression has more to do with personal bias than a flaw in the book itself.

One of the things I really liked about Drummer Girl is the parallel Bass sets up between Sid's approach to drumming and her emotional growth. I suspect that there's additional symbolism built into the chapter titles, which are all drumming moves, but as a former flute player, I have no idea what it is. I'm sure that percussion-inclined teens will really enjoy this aspect of the story. 

Drummer Girl is a good pick for those who liked Jill MacLean's Home Truths or Susan Juby's Getting the Girl. 

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