Drummond is a thirteen-year-old boy with an unbalanced equation. His life at home seems strong, but his musical realm lacks substance. As the young boy pushes harder into the world of the marching band, his family, though supportive, grows apart both figuratively and literally. As most young ones do, Drummond tends to ignore many familial situations that occur around him. This is made clear throughout the book as an illustration of the naivete of Drummond, who focuses only on the band. In fact, Drummond is so concerned about which instrument he needs to play that most of the things he learns about his family happen on the car ride to and from band practice. This is a perfect way to portray a young boy’s innocence while distracted by something much more important to him and his short-term future. Most kids don’t see past the nearest obstacle to plan for the future, and this novel hits that square on the mark! By the book’s conclusion, we see the teeter-totter has flipped, and Drummond has a successful musical hobby while his home life is helplessly left in disarray. This is not seen as a sacrifice but more as a matter-of-fact result by way of true life. The novel has both a happy and unhappy ending which is both genuine and also an ordinary occurrence in homes everywhere. Though Drummond has grown tremendously as a person, his equation remains unbalanced.
For younger readers, Drummond is a reflection of yourself today. He is experiencing many similar things as most teenagers do. For musicians, you may even feel like the story is about you specifically, using music terminology that makes things very real. Off the field, Drummond’s life is relatable with boys, girls, nerves, jealousy, awkwardness, and stumbling forward through rites-of-passage. For older readers, the book takes us on a nostalgia trip back to grade school where we can all relate to familiar themes: homework, report cards, chores, dating, and even getting grounded. Much more importantly though, we see through Drummond’s eyes how we reacted and dealt with each problem in the moment to learn from it in the future. In effect, the book is about how we all got to where we are today! Blakley's novel is charming, humorous, and an authentic look into a relatable past for all readers of any age. For musicians, this book is an essential read; it’s your story! Drummond is an incredibly well-written coming-of-age story that hits so close to home. 5/5 stars!