Catie's Reviews > Five Flavors of Dumb

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
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Jul 02, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2012, ya
Recommended to Catie by: Flannery
Read from June 09 to 10, 2012

3 1/2 stars

I don’t often read or enjoy “feel-good” books and that’s most certainly what this is, although; I will grant that it does take a while to find its way into corn-country. However, sometimes I do get bogged down by all the darkness and depression. Sometimes I just need a little refresher. Luckily for me, there are a few things that can help circumvent my “corn-free” policy. A few of these things are:

Nerdery/Geekery in all its forms
Off-beat humor
A unique voice
Soft rock anthems
Shenanigans
90’s Grunge
Awkwardly hot Asian love interests

And guess what? This book has all of those things. This book was exactly what I needed, and I'm really glad that Flannery challenged me to read it. I think I inhaled it in less than a day, and in my world of chauffeuring, cooking, cleaning, and crisis-mediation that’s quite extraordinary! I really couldn’t put this book down.

This is a very sweet story with more depth than your average sweet story. Piper feels completely alone in her school, ever since the only other deaf person (and her best friend) moved to a new state. At home, things aren’t much better. Her baby sister, who was born severely deaf, has recently been fitted with a cochlear implant and is starting to hear – meaning that Piper is now the only person in her family who can’t. To make matters worse, Piper realizes that her parents have raided her college fund – the one she was going to use to pay for tuition at a prestigious university for the deaf – to pay for the implant.

Desperate for money, Piper sees opportunity in the somewhat lame but nonetheless enthusiastic high school band quite appropriately named “Dumb.” After witnessing a performance in front of the school, Piper ends up giving the band a not so small piece of her mind and their arrogant (but hot, natch) leader challenges her to become their manager. If she can get them a paying gig in one month, she will not only get a share of the money; she will get to keep the job. So Piper accepts. Even though she has little to no interest in music.

The first three quarters of this book had me grinning and laughing and swooning. I loved almost every minute – from Piper’s realization that her dorky Chess club partner is secretly a master percussionist with the soul of a rock star, to the band’s various (and mostly failing) attempts to succeed and get paid, to the very sweet dynamic between Piper and her younger brother Finn. I loved that Piper is a no-nonsense shark of a manager, perfectly willing to lie to get her foot in the door. And I really loved that each and every member of Piper’s family is both present and feels like a real, three-dimensional character. No absentee parents here!

Where this story lost me was, of course, in the ending. Oh, how I wish that I could just beam myself in to these quirky, fun reads and tell everyone to step away from the corn-ledge! Just don’t do it, fictional people! Don’t reach for the corn!! Alas, I have no such powers. Because I have to admit that I really loved that Dumb was such a big hot mess of a band. And this story, for me, was about Piper reconnecting with the world – both at home and with her peers – and finding her own identity. I just don’t think it was necessary or realistic for the band to fall into such perfect alignment and become a success. Also, the way that they eventually came together was very predictable, in my opinion. Her family’s progress also verged into unrealistic territory. Some of her parent’s decisions and actions later in the book felt out of character and yes, corny.

However, I did have a lot of fun reading this. Will I remember this book in a year or two? I’m not sure. I am writing this review only a week after reading it and already had to look up the main character’s name.

Perfect Musical Pairing

Evelyn Glennie – How To Listen To Music With Your Whole Body

Okay, so this is actually mostly a lecture, but I wanted to include it here because I was kind of bummed that this book never addressed the myth that deaf people do not enjoy music. Even though I thought it was hilarious that Piper was very much not a music lover, I think it would have been awesome if the author had found a way to dispel this myth. However, I completely respect his decision and I would much rather it not be present than for him to have artificially shoe-horned it in. That doesn’t stop me from including it in my review though! This video is really amazing – a fascinating demonstration from deaf percussionist (she probably plays the marimba!) Evelynn Glennie.

Also seen on The Readventurer.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Aly (Fantasy4eva) so many wonderful reviews on this. i couldn't get into it, but i plan on giving it another go someday. hope you love it. happy reading :)


message 2: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I'll be interested to see what you think of this. The author lives in St. Louis, so I want to support him but I tried his second book and did not finish. I heard a lot of good things about this one too.


Catie Well, I'm about 38% in and I pretty much love it. It's great - light but not too fluffy, a lot of quirky, interesting characters. Nerdy Asian love interest who's a master percussionist. I'm basically in love!


Alyssa Looking forward to your review, Catie! I still haven't written mine because I have no idea where to start :S


Catie Thanks Alyssa! I'm not sure what I'm going to say yet either.


Reynje "The corn-ledge" - I love it! I think I'm going to steal this for future use :) Great review, Catie.


Catie Haha, thanks Rey!

I just re-read your review of this today and remembered how much I loved it.


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