Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John


Five Flavors of Dumb
Antony John
Dial Books (Penguin)
Hardcover; 352 Pages

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.


I'm going to try to write this review without gushing too much about how it's one of my favorite reads of the century. I'm also going to try to prevent myself from ranting about how a GUY excelled at writing a book from a GIRL's POV. It makes me wonder if we females are getting a little too predictable/readable... Hmm.

I digress.

Okay, so, Five Flavors of Dumb IS on my list of best YA books of all time. I have backing, too. It's won the Schneider Family Teen Book Award and for good reason. Piper, your main girl in the story, is deaf. That doesn't make Piper an outcast in any way. She adapts well with reading lips and signing. As a matter of fact, Piper is pretty average yet strongly unique at the same time. What do I mean by that? She's smart, independent and funny, but she's not popular and never catches the eye of the popular boy at school. She sounds ordinary, yet she somehow manages to shine through on every page with her fierce determination and witty comments. She's also very human in that she has to deal with making mistakes, learning, moving on and struggles to understand her two parents who seem to put more time and effort into her infant sister than her.

The story grips you not in the way that most books do by its action, but rather its intense emotional roller coaster that you go on with Piper as she grows and finally breaks out of her shell. Just when you think she's going to give up, she pulls out more strength that you never realize she has and saves the day.

The supporting characters were all just as amazingly written, each with their own issues and quirks. I think the only ones I was annoyed with in the story was her parents, who drained Piper's funds given to her by her grandparents for college all so they could give her little sister a "chance to be normal" with a cochlear implant. The way they went about it was completely inappropriate and devoid of any concern for how it may affect Piper. If you ask me, it was almost selfish ... like they just couldn't bear the idea of having two deaf daughters. Thankfully, they do somewhat redeem themselves in the story. The love interest in the story completely blindsided me, although looking back I can say that it was there - I was just too wrapped up in other things to notice all of the hints at it within the story. I think of all the characters, Piper's brother Finn ended up with my heart. The love interest was all well and good, but Finn showed that he was much more than what met the eye - and my heart was pretty much jello there at the end.

I don't think that I can do this book justice by just writing a review. Instead, you should go out and buy this book. Read it for yourself, and I dare you to not fall madly in love with it.

Source: SFBR, Publisher

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