Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Five Flavors of Dumb
Author: Antony John
Publication: Dial (November 11, 2010)

Description: The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.

The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band's manager and get her share of the profits.

The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she's deaf?

Piper can't hear Dumb's music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb.

My Thoughts: This was a very special story about a girl who is probably the most unlikely manager for rock band that could possibly be imagined. Piper is severely deaf. 

Of course, the rock band is unusual too. The band starts out with twin brothers Josh and Will. Josh is the self-absorbed lead singer. Will is only interested in playing his guitar. The third in the original band is Tasha who is an angry girl with a major crush on Will. After playing at school one day, Piper is challenged to become their manager and get them a paying gig. She drafts her friend Ed who is a percussionist to try to bring some order (and sense of rhythm) to the band. And Josh is eager to add Kallie to the group. She is pretty and loves music but isn't able to play her guitar to the level of the other band members. But Josh wants to hit on her and, so, she gets in.

Piper is eager for the band to start making money. Her parents raided her college fund to buy cochlear implants for her baby sister. At first, the money is her only incentive. But she soon becomes interested in the band and in the history of rock music in Seattle. The band has lots of ups and downs including a knock-down drag-out fight on a local television show before their final triumph.

The story also talks about Piper's family dynamics. Her dad has lost his job; her mom is working very long hours as a paralegal. He brother Finn is feeling shuffled aside. He's always being compared unfavorably to Piper. But he is a great guitarist and he also gets dragooned into helping Kallie and Tash become better guitarists.

This was a rich story filled with interesting characters and situations. I recommend it to young adults who like contemporary fiction and have an interest in rock music. I think they will like getting to know Piper, Finn, Ed, Kallie and Tash.

Favorite Quote:
For the next hour and a half I watched with morbid fascination as Kallie tried to coordinate her playing with Tash, Will seemed to slip in and out of consciousness, and Josh sang "I'll stay with you / We'll see this through" like he was dry heaving. By the time it was all over, Ed looked exhausted, Kallie seemed to be having second thoughts about joining us, and I'd discovered that my least favorite song in the whole wide world was the one I wrote myself.


  1. My very good book friend and former colleague recently recommended this to me. I would have read it based on her recommendation alone, but then it won the Schneider Family Book Award, which nudged it into my shopping cart. Your lovely review guarantees its placement high on my teetering to be read pile! Thanks!


  2. Sounds like a fab read. Thanks for sharing a great review.

  3. I enjoyed this book as well. I thought Piper was an awesome main character.


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