Release Date: November 11th, 2010
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: I own this book.
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
Sometimes when I write my reviews I talk about the strengths and the weaknesses in the writing, the plot, the characters, etc. I can't really do that here considering this was my first 5 star review of 2012. And even if it wasn't worthy of 5 stars, I really couldn't do that. It's not that type of book. And it doesn't deserve to be critiqued, analyzed, or raked over a bed of hot coals. This is a book with a message, and never, not once, does it get preachy.
See, Piper, the main character, is deaf. Yeah, she has a disability. But it doesn't define who she is. It's part of who she is, sure, but it's definitely not a weakness. Piper manages to make her deafness a strength. She becomes a band manager for a really terrible band, and somehow turns them into a force to be reckoned with by herself and with a little help from her brother and best friend.
I will admit that when I first started reading this book I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. It's almost always like that with me and contemporary YA though. Sometimes it feels preachy to me, and sometimes it's overdramatic. I never felt that way with Five Flavors of Dumb. This book seriously cracked me up. It was funny. And I've got quotes.
"Don't go there, Piper. Not today," warned Dad. Yes, my name is Piper. And no, I don't see the funny side. Seriously, what family with a history of hereditary deafness names their child after the player of a musical instrument?
By the time everyone was in sync, Dumb had its first original song, and although Josh was bummed when I said he should change the lyrics "Hey ho, make me happy" because they were likely to be misinterpreted, a glare from Tash convinced him I was right.
Those were a few of my favorites. Much funnier in context, sure, but I hope it gives you an idea of the humor found in this novel. And it covers a lot of serious topics, but I never once found it to be heavy or overdone. It's all about how the story makes you feel. If you connect with the characters. Can you relate to their experiences? Piper never lets her deafness get her down. She never gives up no matter how many times she gets made fun of. Even her own family sees her deafness as a weakness, but I, the reader, never did.
I thought this book was trying to say a few things. Like:
~Relationships with people are powerful bonds. So is the bond with music. Sometimes it can bring you together, and sometimes it tears you apart.
~People are not always who they seem. Stereotypes can be, and often are, shattered (and I'm not just talking about Piper here).
Almost everyone in this book was a walking stereotype from the very beginning. But some of the character transformations they went through absolutely shocked me. I was stunned. The ending of this book blew me away. It's what bumped this book up from a 4 star to a 5 star. And I can't really talk about the ending without getting spoilery. Just read this book if you haven't already. It's special, and it's important. Before I go, I'm going to leave you with one more quote from the narrative.
But you're worrying about the wrong things. Don't worry about wanting to change; start worrying when you don't feel like changing anymore. And in the meantime, enjoy every version of yourself you ever meet, because not everybody who discovers their true identity likes what they find."
To buy a copy of Five Flavors of Dumb from Amazon.com, click here: Five Flavors of Dumb. As of 1/24/2012, the Kindle and paperback versions are 8.99.