It's about twenty years too late, but at least it's here: a book for my twelve year old self.
I don't know how you choose your next book to read, but I get my ideas from various places. Twitter has become a great source for adding titles to my to-be-read list. Someone I follow had asked the question: what's your favorite middle grade book you've read recently? The thread to that question was awesome!
But none of the suggestions stood out to me more than I am drums by Mike Grosso.
On the second night of me reading I am drums, I had the house to myself. Hubby was in school (he's taking night classes). He came home, kissed me, and asked, "What's wrong?"
"This is the book I should have read when I was twelve," I said. "But I couldn't! You wanna to know why?"
"Because it didn't exist!" I burst into tears and babbled on about how Sam's experience mirrors my my own...
My friends might not have said it, but they thought it was "weird" that I play the drums. (Cuz I'm a girl, probably.) My mother didn't say it, but I could tell she didn't think playing the bass in a skirt was very ladylike. I heard beats in my sleep (and everywhere I went) and tapped my notebook, locker and desk. It was torture to play the set "in pieces," as it's described in the book. It may not have been true, but I felt like I was stuck with the triangle for all the performances. I dropped the crash cymbal once. Once! And the teacher never let me play it again. (Okay, maybe I dropped it more than once. And I was nervous during our performance! I couldn't help that they slipped out of my sweaty hands.)
I never hit anybody with a mallet, like Sam, but I felt angry that I wasn't able to take private lessons, that my parents hid their sigh of relief when I said I'd take choir instead. "It's cheaper," my sister had explained. (You can read my more detailed story here.)
"I can't give this book to my twelve year old self," I told Hubby. "I can't--- I can't!" And cried some more as he held me.
After a moment, I calmed down, sat up, and said, "I can't go back and tell my twelve year old self not to quit."
"No," Hubby said, his arm still around me.
"But I'm a drummer now."
Hubby smiled. "Yes you are!"
"And once grading is finished, I can start putting stars on my calendar again. I can practice."
"I'll be able to justify lessons again."
"And I have that." I pointed to the drum set in the other room as tears ran down my cheeks.
"Yes you do!"
"It's mine! It's mine, mine, mine. It's real. And I'm a real drummer."
I wish I could tell you I'm exaggerating this conversation, but, unfortunately, I am that dramatic.
The point of this post is not to make Mike Grosso feel bad. It's not his fault that this story (or a story like it) hadn't been told when I was going through my middle grade crisis over the drums. Even if I had played through junior high and high school, I don't know if I would have made a career out of it. Yes, I sometimes think about the drummer I would be right now if I hadn't quit at age twelve. Not that I'd be the first blue-man-girl (which my sister says is impossible because it's the blue man group) or even win a Hit Like A Girl Contest, but here's the thing---
We have the book now. The story is out there! Imagine the girl drummers--- and all young musicians--- who can read it now! Think of the impact!
My two concluding thoughts are:
1) I'm included in that. I'm a young musician. Even if I were 84-year-old Wanda, I'd still be young at heart and be able to play the drums now!
2) There are important stories to tell. You may think that your struggles are unique or "weird," but they're not. Tell them.
I'm what you'd call a "hobbyist" drummer.