Saturday, February 12, 2011

Five Flavors of Dumb

Piper is having a rough time of it during her senior year of high school.  Her best friend has moved away, her little brother, a freshman, keeps getting into trouble, and to top things off, she has just discovered that her parents have used her college fund to pay for her deaf baby sister's cochlear implants - implants that have enabled her to hear.  Which leaves Piper as the only deaf child in the family, and now she's not even sure that she'll be able to go to college.

Then, somehow, she ends up becoming the manager of a band called Dumb.  The members are classmates of hers - people she's certainly not friends with - and they have won a local high school battle of the bands.  Initially she thinks that maybe she can make some money to help pay for college, but soon it becomes clear that, while the band have their occasional moments where it all comes together brilliantly, more often they are bickering and not even listening to each other play.  Then the lead singer brings a beautiful but talentless guitar player into the band, clearly because he wants to go out with her, and things go from bad to worse. 

Piper considers giving up on several occasions, as she makes mistake after mistake, and so do the members of the band.  But gradually she begins to see how she can take charge and really make a difference.  An anonymous comment on their website leads them on a musical pilgrimage around Seattle, and even though Piper can't hear the music all that well, she begins to understand it on a more visceral, fundamental level.  She had been feeling invisible to everyone around her, but only now does she begin to see how many things were invisible to her, not just the members of the band, but teachers, her little brother, even her father.

I adored this novel!  The characters are so real, and their relationships grow and change in realistic, believable ways that occasionally had me blinking away tears.  I especially loved Piper, who is going through such a difficult time.  She has a bit of a temper and a tendency to jump to conclusions, but she learns from her mistakes and takes time to do the right thing, even when it's difficult.  I enjoyed the family dynamics, which were so realistic, particularly as seen through Piper's eyes.  She is a feisty and determined young woman, and I do hope there will be further stories about her to come. 

I highly recommend this one - it should have a wide appeal. Fans of rock music - or music in general - won't want to miss it, as well as those who like contemporary school stories.  Although the protagonist is female, boys who could be convinced to give it a try would find a lot to to like.  There's also a wide age-range appeal - I have recommended it to an adult friend who loves rock music, as well as to my daughter's 11-year-old buddy, who particularly enjoys books that "make you cry in a good way."  There's a little romance, a lot of friendship, and I almost forgot to say how funny it is!  Do yourself a favor and pick this one up soon. You'll be glad you did!

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (Dial Books, 2010)

Also reviewed at:
All About {n}"This book was AWESOME!  Piper is one hell of a leading lady."
Becky's Book Reviews:  "I also loved how surprising the novel was--for me. I found it warm and satisfying, in all the right places, as the relationships develop and the plot unfolds."  
TheHappyNappyBookseller:  "This is one of those books where everything comes together so well and all I wanted to do was keep reading. I was pleasantly surprised by how emotionally charged it was, getting beyond the superficial."

4 comments:

  1. Oh man, all the reviews for this one have been great. I think I need this book.

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  2. Janicu - I don't think you will be disappointed. When I look for reviews to link to at the bottom of my posts, I try to find a variety of opinions - but I found nothing but glowing reviews for this out there (which really isn't surprising). :-)

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  3. You don't read about deaf typical teenagers too often so this sounds unique and refreshing too. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much!

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  4. This sounds really good. Too bad my library doesn't have it!

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