Friday, October 12, 2012
Me on Drummer Girl
Author: Karen Bass
Release Date: October 1, 2011
Publisher: Coteau Books
The Fourth Down needs a drummer, and Sidney's easily the best in school, but the all-guy band has some conditions for her to be allowed in... such as dressing like a girl. Accustomed to invisibility, Sid soon discovers the consequences of her makeover. It's not just that playing her drum kit in a skirt is impractical, but as someone who was once taunted about her sexuality for being a girl drummer who likes shop class, she's now forced to deal with guys who see her as fair game and Sid soon realizes the the price of compromising who you really are.
Drummer Girl is an interesting look at someone who is clearly not a "typical" high school girl (I mean "typical" as what society and pop culture consider "typical" for high school girls, it's a stereotype I hope you'll forgive me for referencing). She's quirky, she's comfortable in jeans and old band t-shirts, she's a huge fan of classic rock bands, and because she's not "typical," there are assumptions and stereotypes placed on her. It's her choice to dress how she wants, to be interested in what she likes, to hang out with who she wants to, but she'll have to decide if she wants to stay the way she is or chance for the sake of others.
What I liked about Sid is she was certainly her own person. She just wanted to play drums, to listen to classic rock bands like Rush, to have fun in shop class. She wants to be the one who decides who she is, and when people start thinking she's something else, she gets punchy. Which I understand, no one wants to be called names or put down when they're being themselves.
But there was something that bothered me, and that was Sid's desire to change herself because some people assumed that she was a lesbian because of how she dressed and acted. There was nothing wrong with Sid, nothing beyond a warped sense of needing to completely change her image in order for people to see her as "straight" and "normal" and "a girl." It's not all her fault for changing, there were many times when I wanted to scream at all the jocks and the band guys and her cousin for making her think that she was wrong and they were right, but I wish Sid had a bit more inner strength. Of course, if she did, the book would've been very boring. Still, it's upsetting when teenagers, girls and boys, feel the need to dress or act a certain way because they think it'll help them fit in or make friends or stop the bullying.
One of the purposes of high school, besides learning, is giving teenagers the chance to figure out who they are, to invent yourself and reinvent yourself until you're comfortable with who you are. That's what one of the most important things, discovering who you are and what you're going to be, but you have to make sure you know where the line is between reinventing yourself and lying to yourself.
(I own a copy of this book.)