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Drum Roll, Please

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Find the confidence to rock out to your own beat.

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse.

Now, she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.

But this summer brings big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself falling for a girl at camp named Adeline. To top it off, Melly's not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock 'n' roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?

320 pages, ebook

First published June 26, 2018

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About the author

Lisa Jenn Bigelow

4 books188 followers
Michigan native Lisa Jenn Bigelow is the critically acclaimed author of the middle grade novels Hazel’s Theory of Evolution (2019), winner of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children's/Middle Grade, and Drum Roll, Please (2018),  an Illinois Reads selection and Michigan Notable Book; and the young adult novel Starting from Here (2012), an ALA Rainbow List Top Ten Book. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she serves as a youth librarian in the Chicago suburbs during her non-writing hours.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 344 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
October 25, 2019
This was a lot of fun! While it wasn't necessarily my favorite middle grade story that I've read, it was still a really great read and I can confidently say that 13 year old Chelsea would have ADORED this book. A queer story basically set at Camp Rock? Big yes all around
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
619 reviews627 followers
November 10, 2018
Video Review

Drum Roll, Please was a truly delightful read with a lot of powerful messages packed into it.

I usually don’t really read Middle Grade but because of the themes of this book I felt drawn to it and was excited to give it a chance. And while the themes of this book were clearly Middle Grade, this really read like a lower YA. It did not feel juvenile at all and I can definitely recommend it to YA readers who are interested in the themes.

The summer camp aspect was wonderfully portrayed and brought me right back to my time in summer camps. This feeling of a space where everything feels possible in just a small amount of time came across so well. Even if you’ve never been to summer camp, you will get a good feeling for it.

Melly’s struggles with believing in herself and her abilities were also really well done. The way she feels like she doesn’t deserve to even be at camp and doesn’t really know her place without a band was realistic and written in a way that made it easy to understand where she was coming from.

The development of Melly's relationship with Adeline was wonderful. I think it was so cute when Melly had that moment where she realized why she had such intense feelings about Adeline. It was also great to see Melly in a questioning position but Adeline as someone who is 100% confident in what she wants and who she is.
In general this had so many great friendships. I think the struggles that Melly had with her best friend Olivia were so relatable and realistic. I like when books portray the struggles of best friends growing up and going through puberty together. I think it's an issue in so many kids and teens lives that gets undermined pretty quickly.

Overall I had an amazing time while reading Drum Roll, Please. I could mention so many more moments and things that I really loved but I think you get the picture. If you're interested in summer camps, music and coming of age, this is absolutely the book for you, whether you read Middle Grade or not!

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I received an ARC of this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Stephanie.
Author 69 books974 followers
July 25, 2018
Ohhhhh I loved this book so much. Every so often in life, you find a book that just resonates PERFECTLY, and this was one of those books for me. It's one of my very favorite realistic MG novels I've ever read (my other favorite is Virginia Euwer Wolff's THE MOZART SEASON), and it burrowed straight into my heart to stay there forever. I foresee a lot of re-reads in the future, but also I felt a happy glow when I finished reading because I knew I was going to *remember* this book, regardless of re-reads!

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE is a book about finding your voice, creating a family of friends, managing the ups and downs of friendship and experiencing first love. It's set in a music summer camp in northern Michigan (which OF COURSE resonated for me, since I grew up going to music camps in northern Michigan!), and the music itself - and its expressive power for the heroine - is written about absolutely gorgeously. (I actually highlighted several bits on my Kindle as I read because I wanted to listen to all the songs from the book as a playlist!) But you don't have to be a musician or love music yourself to love this wonderful book.

The romance (which is with another girl, after the heroine has had intense crushes on boys before - but her new realization that she's bi is treated very casually, not as a point of drama, which I loved) is so, so sweet and sigh-worthy. Her issues with her best friend are just as vital a part of the book, though, and the most important plotline of all is shy (but inwardly fierce, deeply caring and smart) Melly's emotional journey to find the courage to tell people what SHE actually wants - whether it's to her parents (who announced their divorce just before sending her away to camp and expected her to deal with the news on her own without complaint) or her lifelong best friend (who expects Melly to ALWAYS be there, waiting and ready to do whatever Olivia wants whenever Olivia wants to do it, while Olivia gets to make other people her priority).

And of course, it's also her personal journey towards finding her own inner rocker girl, who can pound her drums just as loudly as she wants and not worry about what other people will think of her.

A lot of personal details in this book resonated for me - so much so that I REALLY wish it had existed back when I was MG-age and really could have used a book just like this as a mirror. But whether or not any of Melly's personal details match your own, this is just a really, really beautiful MG novel about courage and friendship and self-expression.

I REALLY loved it.
Profile Image for •°• gabs •°•.
248 reviews199 followers
September 12, 2019
there's just something about middle grade sapphic novels that just gets to me. they make me so happy and soft and i really hope little girls are reading them and feeling validated or getting answers or comfort, because i would give anything to have had the chance to read a book like this when i was in middle grade.

574 reviews30 followers
March 19, 2019
Okay, so the writing is kind of clunky at times, but it’s a queer middle grade novel with no homophobia or coming out drama, just happy acceptance and the normal interpersonal pitfalls of a twelve-year-old. Wish this had existed when I was that age!
Profile Image for Shirley Freeman.
1,134 reviews11 followers
January 9, 2018
Melly’s parents announce their impending separation a couple days before Melly and best friend Olivia leave for 2 weeks at music camp. Melly is an introvert who needs time and space to think and process. Olivia is an extrovert who has always been around to pave the way. Camp tests their friendship and allows them to begin discovering who they are personally and musically. Lisa Jenn Bigelow describes first crushes so beautifully – the yearning, the anxiety, the confusion when the crush is reciprocated and when it is not. Camp Rockaway sounds like a blast – especially because it is full of puns. Their campsite is called Treble Cliff, the board where they sign out to different spots is called the Fretboard, etc. This middle-reader is full of music and heart. To be published in June 2018.
Profile Image for Laura.
619 reviews25 followers
January 9, 2022
This was so cute!! It’s a really sweet, relatable story about music, friendship, family, and going out of your comfort zone. The romance is so soft and sweet, and the music stuff is great (especially the bit about Rebel Girl! I also really wish I could hear their songs). The summer camp setting was so well drawn that I feel like I went on a woodsy summer vacation. And it wasn’t afraid to be raw and sad! I def cried.

This feels like it fits in the older side of MG, and some younger teens could enjoy it too.
Profile Image for Christany.
86 reviews2 followers
August 28, 2018
This is the kind of book that I needed growing up! I love how honest it feels, how naturally and sweetly Melly's crush on Adeline forms and grows...very reminiscent of my own first crushes. I also really appreciate that the book doesn't label Melly, or let anyone else label her. She's had crushes on boys as well as Adaline, but the novel is very careful to avoid calling her bi or pan or gay, and I think that's perfect considering Melly's age and how new these feelings and new revelations are for her. I feel like this book perfectly captures the muddled mess of starting to figure yourself out in your tween years - especially when you're a queer tween experiencing all the confusion and elation of your first same-gender crush. I wish there had been more books like this when I was growing up so I could've seen girls like me in the books I read, and I would've realized sooner that I'm not strange, and not alone! This is why representation in fiction matters, kids. ❤
Profile Image for Kitkat.
379 reviews106 followers
September 13, 2018
I really liked this book. I liked how Melly and Olivia were really close but a stupid guy comes who's a jerk. Olivia is stuck in another band which they wanted together. However they're in the same tent which is awesome. There's also Yasmine who is really awesome and Adeline. Adeline is so cool and kind to Melly when Olivia ditches her for her crush who's a dick. I loved Adeline so much! Melly and Adeline go out canoeing and practice together. They have a lot of fun until Olivia is shunned by her crush. I felt bad for Olivia but I think Melly deserved to hang out with Adeline. I know Melly goes crawling back to Olivia and it's really upsetting. But it shows later that her parents were thinking selfishly telling Melly before camp that they're divorcing. I liked that selfishness with everyone. Then how Melly understands because she was being selfish with Adeline and Olivia.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for james ☆.
204 reviews27 followers
March 17, 2020
i read this book as research on middle grade, but actually really enjoyed it!

words cannot express how much i needed this book when i was in the intended age group...it would have been absolutely life changing.

if i had to be picky, the ending felt like it could have taken a little longer to unfold than it did, but it tied up the loose ends nicely and honored the character arcs introduced throughout the story.

plus, it was a fast read full of important messages. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Profile Image for Allison.
276 reviews5 followers
July 28, 2018
This was my young adult read for the year. It perfectly captured some of the angst and drama of coming to camp with a friend (but wanting to make other friends), crushes, wrapping your mind around divorce, all sprinkled with a little music. Great YA read for those open to LGBT themes.
Profile Image for Elke.
443 reviews87 followers
October 8, 2019
this was delightful! i picked it up on a whim with the thought that a middle grade was exactly what i needed and it was. a girl away on band camp to drum her heart out, especially since she's dealing with the fresh news of her parents getting divorced and with the confusing feelings of what might be a crush on another girl.

definitely recommend
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,769 reviews650 followers
July 4, 2020
Middlegrade like middlegrade should be! Reading this at 25, I still found it super relatable, and while the setting and plot were quite simple, they were also really charming and the book did have a fair amount of depth.
Profile Image for Alison Rose.
777 reviews73 followers
March 12, 2022
Um okay. I did not know I needed metal covers of Taylor Swift songs until now, and now I really need that . Can this be real, please???

This was a really sweet middle grade story, and similar to books by Ashley Herring Blake, it makes me just a tiny bit wistful that I hadn't been born maybe a decade or so later, so that I might've realized I was queer at this age. (I was born in 1980—when I was growing up, there were basically zero positive portrayals of gay people in the media. Not exactly conducive to discovering your own sexuality.) While that element isn't as present in this book as it is in other queer MGs, I did think it was also very realistic for the age group, the way it was portrayed and the way Melly experienced it. There's not a lot of angst or anything, and there's no big dramatic "OMG U GUYZ I'M SO HECKIN GAY" scene, but her connection with Adeline was adorable and authentic. So I think it would be relatable for younger kids, even if I wish it was a little less surface level.

I loved seeing a bunch of kids super into music and putting their hearts into it, and it was great to see how encouraging and supportive the camp staffers were. The whole camp itself sounded amazing, although I say this as someone who never went to any kind of camp nor had even the tiniest shred of desire to. You have kids from all different backgrounds and with all different musical skills and tastes, and it was cool to see them form these bands and figure out how to blend their styles together. (In addition to the amped-up TS, Melly's band also does a haunting acoustic version of Enter Sandman, which...hell yes, I want to hear that one, too.) I did think the practice scenes got a little repetitive, and it also feels like two weeks wouldn't really be enough time to prepare for an actual performance?? But hey, it's fiction.

Very cute, very light, and almost made me wish I had gone to camp. Almost.
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books66 followers
July 4, 2018
This is definitely one of my favorite middle grade books of the year. It’s the perfect summer read about Melly and her best friend, Olivia, who head to a music camp for two weeks. As the girls are put in situations that force them out of their comfort zone with each other, Melly starts to bloom into her own person with a beautiful awakening when out from Olivia’s shadow. The feelings that she develops for a fellow camper, Adeline, the exposure to different music, and the emotions she experiences about the bombshell her parents dropped on her before camp all help Melly grow in meaningful ways.

I found this book in the teen section of the bookstore, but I’d classify it as an upper middle grade read. I just bought a copy for library, and will be recommending it often.
Profile Image for Staci (stacisbookishprobs).
250 reviews38 followers
March 26, 2020
Oh my heart is so full 🥰

Queer middle grade is for sure the key to my heart. I love nothing more than it and I need so much more of it in my life. I thought I was gonna give this a 3 star rating but as we reached the half way point and Melly started to really grow into herself and really stand up for herself it really hit home with me.

Melly was amazing. She grew so much at her two weeks at camp. She really found out who she was and really dealt with her emotions realistically for someone her age. I don’t have divorced parents but I felt like she really dealt with it in such a way any kid would.

I highly highly recommend this book. I don’t ever see it talked about so If you want an adorable sapphic middle grade book PLEASE READ THIS!
Profile Image for Liz.
471 reviews8 followers
February 13, 2019
This was SO great, and I would love a tween movie that's like School of Rock meets Camp, starring Krysten Ritter as Donna the no-nonsense punk rock camp counselor.
Profile Image for Maja Todorovska.
50 reviews
April 19, 2020
Going into this book I was expecting a cute, summery, camp love story. What I got instead was a thousand times better. While there are romance elements, the main story focuses on how the main character, Melly, deals with her parents' divorce, changing friendships, and learning to express herself. Her devastation in the face of her parents' divorce feels crushing and we can definitely see how it's already affecting her and her relationships with those around, particularly with Olivia, her best friend.
Their relationship is very interesting. The author really nailed the feeling of following your friend's lead and letting them call the shots. The frustration at the things people assume about that situation and the helplessness that you feel when you try to talk about it, is all very accurately represented in Melly's thoughts.
Another intersting part of the story is the slow realization that you like someone. Considering that Melly realizes she likes a girl, the whole thing is handled and writen beautifully. The crush doesn't appear out of nowhere, instead it grows out of a genuine friendship between Melly and Adeline, the 'love interest' in question. Adeline herself is a vey interesting character. She's a good friend and constantly offers Melly the chance to open up and experience new things. Her action and words never come off as pushy or manipulative, even when Melly is very reluctant at first.
As the book goes on, Melly's confidence slowly grows, partly because of her friendships with the other campers, and partly because of her practise sessions. It's a music camp, so of course there's a band that has to learn to play together. One compeling aspect of that subplot is Melly's interactions and relationship with her mentor Donna. The trepidation and awestruckedness and admiration is amazing. The moment that stands out between them, is the conversation that they have after Melly figures out she likes girls. You can truly feel the quiet anxiety, the shame, and the disbelief that Melly feels regarding her abilities as a person and as a musician.
Throughout the entire book, Melly's struggles and her feeling always feel real and relatable. Her insecurities never feel completely out of the blue, and seeing her overcome them is incredibly satisfying.
Overall, it's an amazing book and one that's definitely joining my favourites list.

Quotes I liked:
"Music isn't just playing notes on a page. You've got to put your heart into it. I'm not saying lose control, I'm saying let what's happening inside come out."
"How was anyone supposed yo figure this stuff out? It was depressing to think I could live another twenty-five years and still be clueless."
Profile Image for Amy.
1,063 reviews32 followers
September 28, 2018
I recently purchased this book for my school library's collection (we are a 6-8 building) and the first student who checked it out only had it a week before a parent told the student's teacher that there needed to be a book switch. They did not agree with the themes in the book (LGBTQ). There was no mention of removing the book or anything like that, but this parent concern had me moving it up my TBR list in case I needed to have firsthand experience with the book. With all that said, I really, really, really liked this one. It is middle grade gold, in the sense that the characters are realistic, the situations are pitch-perfect for middle schoolers, and the way the author handles some very complex and realistic situations (parents divorcing, friends ditching you for boys, wondering if the way you feel about your new friend is more than just a friend) is deft and tender.

Melly's parents are sending her to Camp Rockaway for two weeks this summer, which is kind of good news. She likes to play the drums, especially with her best friend Olivia. But then, the day before she is set to leave, they drop the news on her: they are getting divorced. No worries though! They'll just talk about it when she gets back. Then, once at camp, Olivia starts hanging out with a new boy, Noel, and it is clear she is ready to ditch Melly if there is remotely a chance of being with him instead. And, as Melly begins to forge a friendship with Adeline, she wonders if there is more to that relationship than she originally thought. Of course, she's trying to pretend everything is fine with Olivia, that her band is actually working out (spoiler alert: it's NOT), and that Adeline is just a friend. All of this eventually implodes, leaving Melly to work out what she wants and how to handle it when some things are just out of your control.

Highly recommend for readers who enjoy realistic fiction. Appropriate for grades 5-8.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews112 followers
July 22, 2019
4 stars
TW: parents' divorce
Rep: sapphic MC & LI

The Writing
The writing felt very quintessentially middle grade. It was simplistic and the voice definitely read as very juvenile, but that was something that I was expecting going into this book because I knew that it was a middle-grade book. Overall, though, I really enjoyed the main character's voice and I found her very endearing.

The Plot/Pacing
This is a book about a girl discovering her feelings for another girl, but it's also about her dealing with the fact that her parents are getting divorced and it's also about her trying to navigate her friendships and it was just the most precious thing ever??? I really loved following Melly through all of that.

The Characters
Melly is such an endearing character and I feel like part of that is because it feels like she wears her heart on her sleeve, which might just be because this book is middle grade so everything is much more clearly stated but... I love it nonetheless. I really loved reading about her trials and tribulations. I also really enjoyed the way her friendship with Olivia was handled. And,,, I mean, her relationship with Autumn was just really adorable and made me miss summer camp and made me wish I wasn't literally scared half to death about my feelings for other girls when I was younger, but we can't always get what we want.

I feel like I'm a broken record when it comes to this but reading middle-grade f/f fiction just feels like a warm hug and I love it so much and I never want it to stop, which is probably why I will literally never stop reading it. Exciting!
Profile Image for Rachel.
363 reviews7 followers
April 20, 2019
I wish this book had existed when I was thirteen. An awkward, rock-music loving thirteen year old girl who discovers that she has feelings for another girl at camp? My heart.

What a beautiful, thoughtful novel. The main characters, Melly, Adeline and Olivia, all felt nicely developed. I enjoyed spending time with all of them. And the secondary characters, like Donna, Toni and Shauna were rad too. Plus! How awesome to read a book for tweens that is chock full of badass female characters.

The story focuses on Melly, who is off to sleepaway camp for the first time - a day after her parents let her know that they are divorcing. She and her best friend Olivia are exciting to spend the summer rocking out together at a music camp called Camp Rockaway, but of course some slight complications ensue... (When you are 13, life is nothing but complications, IMO.)

Melly meets Adeline, a quirky folk musician and veteran of Camp Rockaway, and something clicks between them almost immediately. Melly's relationship with Olivia, on the other hand, is developing some riffs (like in music! eh!?). Ahh, the torments of youth!

This book was a serious delight.
Profile Image for Olive.
14 reviews
April 28, 2021
I love this book so much. It’s sooo good. I don’t need to say much more. Read it now. You won’t regret it.
Profile Image for Tay.
76 reviews5 followers
September 17, 2018
4.5 stars.

Melly and her best friend Olivia both enjoy music and are going to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway. Right before they leave though, Melly's parents decide to tell her about their divorce, leaving her upset and confused.
Not to mention how Olivia develops a crush on a boy at camp, but in the process completely forgets Melly and leaves her to deal with all of her emotions by herself.
Melly, who doesn't make new friends very easily, quickly becomes close to Adeline. A beautiful, awesome girl with the most beautiful voice.

Drum Roll, Please was one of my most anticipated books and very high on my tbr. I'm so glad I picked this up as it didn't disappoint and delivered so much more than I thought I would be getting.

I loved how even though this was over the course of two weeks, it wasn't rushed and didn't feel unrealistic. Camps are supposed to feel like a lifetime when in reality it's only two weeks and the author did a great job with that.

This book also showed how friendships can have a hard and rough patch, Olivia completely ditches Melly the moment she had her eye on a boy. But it also shows how if you really are best friends you can get through it as long as you communicate your feelings.

The divorce and Melly's feelings on it are very well done and exactly how a thirteen year old would feel if their parents just out of the blue decided to split. She's mad, she wants to throw a tantrum but that's not her. She's the quiet, shy girl who always does what others tell her to.

Melly, who's an expert on the drums, doesn't get put into the same band as Olivia which was very cool to read about. For once she's on her own and gets to make her own decisions, yet she's very scared to really let go. In life and on her drums.

Then there's Adeline, her new "friend" who listens to her and cheers her up, who's kind and helpful and fun to hang around with.

Melly's development throughout this book was so heart warming and I really saw myself in her a lot of the time.

She learns how her own happiness should always be on the first place instead of others.
Profile Image for Jenni Frencham.
1,284 reviews52 followers
February 19, 2018
Melly joined the band at school because her bold best friend Olivia joined. She also signed up for a summer band camp so she could be with her friend Olivia. The day before she left for camp, her parents told her they were getting divorced. Reeling from this news, Melly flounders a bit at camp. Olivia is making friends and spending time with other kids, and Melly isn't quite sure what to do with herself. Slowly, Melly discovers her own interests and finds confidence to speak up for herself, including finding a person that she may like as more than just a friend.

The main story itself is not that different from many other tween books. A quiet girl finds confidence to stand up for herself and do her own thing, spurred on when her bold friend finds other friends and she has to forge her own path. The difference here is that Melly develops a crush on a fellow camper, a girl named Adeline.

There are not many tween books featuring girl characters crushing on other girl characters, so this book stands out for that reason alone. The other important feature here is that when Melly discovers she likes Adeline, she doesn't have a huge identity crisis. She doesn't have to hide her crush, worrying that her friends will hate her or her parents will send her to a deconversion program, etc. etc. I do wish that middle school me had had this book to read as it gives HOPE and provides a great mirror to kids who aren't getting one anywhere else. Highly recommended.

Recommended for: tweens / middle grade
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Star-Crossed, Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, Better Nate than Ever

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Edelweiss for the purposes of review.
Profile Image for Grace .
555 reviews9 followers
April 15, 2020
A lovely story following Melly as she spends her time at a musical summer camp after her parents tell her they’re splitting up. Melly’s life is changed forever by this and on top of it she’s falling for Adeline at the camp.

Melly was such a delight. She was a very realistic thirteen year old that I really related to. We get to follow her as she learns to find her voice and go after what she really wants.

The setting of a summer camp had me wishing I was in the middle of a forest instead of isolation. But alas, I shall live vicariously through book characters until this is over. I highly enjoyed reading about a musical summer camp and seeing Melly learn to be a part of a band.

This book heavily focuses on the relationships Melly has with people. It was lovely seeing her feelings for Adeline blossom, they were so sweet together. But I personally found Melly’s friendship with Olivia, her best friend, the most interesting. I think the book really tackled how important it is to discover yourself outside of your friendships with other people otherwise we can never speak up for what we want.

A part of the book I didn’t find as interesting was Melly’s parents. I didn’t really know their personalities so I never felt like I cared that much about them splitting up. It was interesting to see how it affected Melly. I guess because I can’t personally relate to it that I wasn’t interested, but I still appreciate that it was included.

All in all, a sweet summery middle grade that deals with self discovery and relationships.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 344 reviews

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