Saturday, January 15, 2011

Five Flavors of Dumb (YA)

Five Flavors of Dumb. Antony John. 2010. [November 2010] Penguin. 352 pages.

For the record, I wasn't around the day they decided to become Dumb. If I'd been their manager back then I'd have pointed out that the name, while accurate, was not exactly smart. It just encouraged people to question the band's intelligence, maybe even their sanity. And the way I saw it, Dumb didn't have much of it. But they weren't in the mood to be reasoned with. They'd just won Seattle's annual Teen Battle of the Bands, and they were milking their fifteen minutes for all it was worth.

I loved this one. I just loved it. One of the reasons why I loved it so much was the narration. I loved our narrator, Piper. She's a (beautiful) girl who is accustomed to not being heard. Most people--if they notice her at all--notice her for the wrong reasons. Something that will be challenged through the course of the novel. Piper is practically daring people to take notice of her now. For this deaf girl is about to take on a big challenge: she's going to be a manager of a rock band. She's determined to make this band a real band--a band that earns money. But the band, for better or worse, seems to be clashing in all the wrong ways. (Original band members: Tash, Will, and Josh.) In impossible-to-ignore ways. It certainly doesn't help matters that two new band members have joined Dumb since it won the Teen Battle of the Bands (Ed, Kallie). Can Piper do the impossible? Can she be the brains of Dumb?

Another reason I loved Five Flavors of the Dumb was the richness of its characters, the depth of the relationships, particularly family relationships. Piper has complex relationships with her mother, her father, her younger brother, Finn, and her baby sister, Grace. Especially since Grace has just had her cochlear implant turned on. And the operation was paid for with Piper's college fund. So, you can imagine, some of the difficulties Piper is facing as the novel opens.

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. But it's more than that. Yes, it's got heart and soul. But it's more than that. It's got humor. It's got drama.

Five Flavors of Dumb is a great coming-of-age story set in Seattle. I'm happy to recommend it!

Winner of the 2011 Schneider Family Teen Book Award.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Beth 6:36 PM  

This looks like a good book. I'm thinking of doing a book tour where I read books set in connected locations, and I want to start in Seattle, so this one would be perfect. And it looks good to read.

Antony John 8:53 PM  

Thanks for reading DUMB, Becky, and taking the time to write such a lovely review. I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it!

Eden the StorySnoop 5:23 PM  

I really enjoyed this book too! It was refreshing that while Piper's disability is part of who she is, it wasn't what the book was about. I also highly recommend this book.

Jill 8:33 PM  

I just finished this one and adored it! The characters and the way their relationships evolve make this book terrific.

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