Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review: Five Flavors of Dumb

Antony John
Piper has one month to get her school's best rock band - Dumb - a paying gig in order to earn a share of the profits and become the band's manager. But not only is the band a mess, Piper also knows nothing about music in the first place. And she's deaf. Still, determined to make some money to help restore her dwindling college fund, Piper quickly teaches herself the ropes in order to become the band manager that Dumb needs.

I'd heard plenty of good things about this book but, being completely honest, it didn't blow me away at first. There was a lot of suspension of disbelief needed in order for me to accept that not only was Dumb Seattle's best teen band, but that Piper, who had absolutely no interest or knowledge of music, would be their manager. Piper's home life is a mess thanks to a dad who, partly because he never learned ASL, has almost no relationship with her and a baby sister who's getting all the attention because with her cochlear implants, she can hear while Piper can't. Piper has a lot of anger, especially in the beginning, and a lot of it (mostly directed towards her father) makes perfect sense. However, while it made sense it also made the character a little difficult to relate to when many of her decisions were fueled by anger and resentment.

However, as the band and Piper's rock-music education became a bigger part of the book, things started coming together more smoothly in the story. While I at first found the deaf-band-manager plot to be unbelievable, the reality of Piper's emotions and reactions as she learns more about the band, music, and how to be a good manager, elevates the book. Through music, which her dad and brother both love, the different parts of Piper's story (family, band, school) come together into a unique and wonderful story.

The family subplot, though it felt weak at the start of the novel, wound up being one of the strongest parts of the book, especially as Piper's relationship with her father changed. I loved the family history and the complicated relationships Piper had with each of them. And while some of the secondary characters fell flat, a few of them, including band members Kallie and Ed, were well-developed characters who really shone. Though I had a few problems with the too-tidy ending and the ASL-written-with-English-grammar, this is one book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend, especially if you're looking for a music-based book.


  1. I am glad you ended up enjoying this book and felt like it was different from so many of the mainstream YA books out there right now

  2. One of my favorite family-story YAs. I absolutely loved the journey that Piper went on with her family through this book. And her relationship with her brother! Very realistic.