Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: Five Flavors of Dumb

Five Flavors of Dumb
Antony John
2010; Dial (Penguin); ISBN 978-0-8037-3433-3 (hardcover)

Summary:  Being the manager of the hottest rock band at her school should be a good gig.  For eighteen-year-old Piper, though, managing Dumb is hard work.  First, there's her long-standing goal to be invisible.  Then there's the band members, whose unharmonious personalities could destroy the group.  Trickiest of all, Piper can't tell if Dumb is even any good--because she's deaf.  Agreeing to manage Dumb because of a challenge, Piper is going to get the band a paying gig, partly in hopes of restoring the college fund her parents raided to pay for her sister's cochlear implant.  She's really only in it for the money, but Piper will find that friends, family and music can't be given a price.

A great premise is enriched with an eye-opening look at deaf culture in Five Flavors of Dumb.  Piper is a gutsy, dynamic teen who slowly learns to come out of her bubble and learn about people.  It's not just the band members of which Piper gains a deeper understanding; she also sees her family in a different light.  For a family that has multiple ways of communicating but aren't really talking, Piper's newfound knowledge lets her break through some walls.  The ups and downs experienced by the band, along with Piper's voice, keeps the pages turning.  Both Piper and Dumb find success, but in unexpected ways.  Hand Five Flavors of Dumb to fans of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin or Born to Rock.

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