I Am Drums

Sam knows she wants to be a drummer. But she doesn’t know how to afford a drum kit, or why budget cuts end her school’s music program, or why her parents argue so much, or even how to explain her dream to other people.

But drums sound all the time in Sam’s head, and she’d do just about anything to play them out loud—even lie to her family if she has to. Will the cost of chasing her dream be too high? 

An exciting new voice in contemporary middle grade, Mike Grosso creates a determined heroine readers will identify with and cheer for.


“Readers will quickly develop a rapport with Sam; it’s impossible not to empathize with both her eagerness and her desperation, nor to recognize that her efforts aren’t sustainable. When things come crashing down, it happens with an appropriate BANG […] This is a worthy and entertaining read about how talent develops and what the potential consequences of pursuing it are: drumroll, please, for a fine homage to spirited single-mindedness.”


“Readers will feel Sam’s desire to play and sympathize with her decision to sneak around in order to pursue her dream. VERDICT: A great read for middle graders with their own obsessions and dreams. Recommended.”

School Library Journal

“Sam’s fresh voice and realistic, unfortunate family dynamics make a gripping, emotional story. Readers will cheer for spunky Sam.”


“Pitch-perfect depiction of a preteen with the fierce determination to follow her passion. An appealing, goodhearted story for all young people yearning to march to the beat of their own drums.“

Horn Book

“Sam’s deeply felt desire to be a drummer, her struggles to articulate her need to her parents, and her father’s inability to look beyond his own pain combine to create a situation that is difficult for the whole family, but that feels very real. Middle school readers who are just beginning to recognize their own skills and abilities will appreciate Sam’s struggles and root for her as she does whatever it takes to make her dreams come true.”


“We often gloss over it, but music costs money. When Sam’s school music program goes under, and her parents can’t afford to buy her a drum kit of her own, she must ask herself: how far will she go to get one? Anyone who’s wanted something so badly it hurts will relate to irrepressible Sam. This novel tackles economic and familial stress with a light touch.”

Nerdy Book Club

“This book is the song of my middle-school heart, back when I was a percussion prodigy (minus the talent). Sam’s determination to become a rock star – or at least master the paradiddle – despite a homemade encyclopedia-and-old-newspaper drum set and budget cuts threatening to end her school’s band program proves drummers are anything but slackers […] and that for many kids, music is much more than just a hobby.”

Michelle Schusterman, author of the I Heart Band! series

“Sweet and humorous, with a main character you will root for like crazy.”


“There are some books that do a perfect job of feeling both super current but also somehow timeless. I AM DRUMS is one of those books, both an older kindred spirit to the Ramona books with how well it handles a challenging economy and the strain that puts on a family, and something that I could share with a kid right now who would see herself in Sam.”

Jenn Bishop, author of THE DISTANCE TO HOME

Awards & Accolades


Illinois Reads 2017 Reading List for Grades 6-8 Selection


2018–19 South Carolina Association of School Librarians Book Award Nominee