Parker is a normal sixth grader—or he was normal before the puppet. It’s just an old hand puppet, sticking out of a garbage can, and even though Parker’s best friend says leave it, Parker brings the puppet home and tries it on. Or maybe it tries him on. “You will call me Drog!” the puppet commands once they’re alone. And now, no matter how hard Parker tries, he can’t get Drog off his hand.
Drog is sarcastic, cruel, unpredictable, and loud—everything Parker isn’t. Worse yet, no one believes that Drog—not Parker—is the one saying the outrageous things that get Parker into trouble. Then Drog starts sharpening his snarky wit on the most fragile parts of Parker’s life—like his parents’ divorce. Parker’s shocked, but deep down he agrees with Drog a little. Perhaps Drog is saying things Parker wants to say after all.
Maybe the only way to get rid of Drog is to truly listen to him.
You Will Call Me Drog was not what I was expecting, but in a good way. If you’ve got the time, this is a novel you can read in one day and not only because it’s an easy read, but because it’s also an enjoyable one. It’s got fundamentals we’re all drawn to in a story; conflict, growth, and resolution.
There’s several issues addressed in this novel, peer pressure being one of the subtler ones, and the big one is divorced child syndrome. To me it’s a good reflection of children who feel they must be the adult and take care of their parents. They can’t do anything to upset them and it’s not because their parent is a hard arse or abusive, but because they feel a responsibility and guilt born from abandonment issues. It doesn’t matter that their main parent isn’t neglecting them or that they don’t have to physically fend for themselves, children and young adults can feel and take on these responsibilities when they’re in this situation regardless of their environment. You Will Call Me Drog is a good story to connect with those children who are going through such an experience.
I also think it’s a great story for those tweens who are in a situation where their parents have separated and their father turns out to be, or impresses on the child, that they’re a bit of a wanker. I know every separation and every relationship is not as clear-cut as that, there are always complications and two sides to every story. I’m not judging, but being an adult who grew up with abandonment issues and knowing children who have gone through something similar, I can understand the ideas and impressions someone can glean from another’s behaviour; such as fathers who have left the picture for whatever reason and think they know what’s best for their kids when they’re not around, or the father who has willingly left the picture and ditched his ‘first family’ only to think he can ingratiate himself in his kid’s problems when he doesn’t even know them.
The lack of miscommunication and the amount of misunderstandings born from not communicating and taking everything at face value is something that is all too common in separations and when family dynamics change. And it’s not just with scenarios like divorce because people can often be bad at communicating what they’re feeling and taking the time to listen to others.
That’s another aspect of You Will Call Me Drog that is excellent for its intended audience, it shows in order to get answers and figure out what others want or what you want, you have to ask directly and say what is on your mind even if it makes you uncomfortable instead of deflecting and getting angry wondering why the problem isn’t going away, something of which we all do. This story shows that compromise is a tool to utilise and that getting angry and taking a person’s actions at face value is something that can get you into even more mess than you began with.
All these issues are addressed and delivered in a well-written story that is engrossing, entertaining, with clearly defined characters, a touch of humour, and with the aide of a seriously problematic puppet. And, as an added bonus, it’s also a story adults can enjoy too.