WillowBe's Reviews > Five Flavors of Dumb

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
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's review
Dec 19, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: tbilf, its-hard-to-grow-up
Read in December, 2011

I rarely read books written by men, but this book was fantastic. I gave it 5 stars- my usual rating is 3 stars. The only caveats is it's better for the older teen set, say 15+. Of course the book's legnth might self-select for more mature 15 year olds. The length is good- it gives him room to bring this story to full-life. Really, it could be a movie! There is no sex, but there is crude language, sexual harrassment, verabal sexual harrssment in all it's cruelty, reference to suicide, cursing at one's parents, despair and rage.

But there is also... well-fleshed, realistic and vibrant charactars who make you care so much, you can't put the book down. There is a believable arc of behavior change, gaining of insight into oneself which helps insight into others, maturity. The growth of dispirited teens into artists, finding their voices, their meaning their idenetity and their power. Good wins out over mean, faith is rewarded, redemption is found, substance, heart and poetry wins out over calculated fakery, belief in one's insticts triumphs over naysayers. And best of all, a tortured soul finds her voice through the friendship and by using her rage to take what is rightfully hers. what a great climax to this story!

Maybe I should just say it's a realistic portrayal of the ways everybody hurts and hurts others. Parents aren't saints, they make mistakes, they are selfish, self-pitying and self-serving, just like their kids are. You see plenty of this here. But at rock bottom, they all love each other, and it's being able to count on the support of one's family that let's Piper take the leaps she takes, and succeed at them.

This story seemed very REAL or rather, veracity in portraying the character, her world and the things that happen in it- maybe I should say it's somewhat hyperreal. But never do you doubt that these things could happen in the world, and certainly believed they happened in Piper's world. But I guess we start with how very real Piper seems. Flawed and perfect all at once.

I loved this book. Just loved it. That a middle-aged English man could write so convincingly of being an American teen-aged girl with moderately severe deafness, an eldest child in a West Coast family-? Or of how an broken girl uses the music of our broken poets to transcend her own pain? And make your heart ache for her? Maybe that's the real miracle here. I don't think I'll read the next one about religion, but this is an author I will definitely be watching.


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